Robotics is a continually evolving sector that, in its fast adoption, has overlooked important areas. International Confectionery explores them.
Robots are being increasingly incorporated into manufacturing, and no better example of this is in the food production industry. In supporting why robots should be incorporated, arguments focus on their efficiency, precision and cost-effectiveness. Pick and place robots figure especially in the confectionery sector, as they are able to handle delicate products, like hollow chocolate or gummies. In the rapid adoption of robots it’s important to not forget that this is a continually growing and innovating area, with areas that need further focus and attention.
We’ve covered robotics in a fair bit of detail in previous issues of International Confectionery, as we’ve explored the future of automated packaging and palletising and whether robots figure in this in this future. Robotics is a sector that is rapidly growing and certainly cannot be ignored. It’s been adopted in food production, but also in the pharmaceutical industry, as they provide filling, inspecting and packaging services, not dissimilar to the role they play for confectionery.
Since 2019, the North West Adoption Programme has supported 41 businesses with 45 technology projects focusing on using robotics and automated machinery. In a collaboration between the UK government and industry, UK£2 million has been invested into the programme. In a report put out two years after the programme’s inception, Chair of the Pilot Steering Group Glyn Jones explained: “By adopting digital technologies such as automation and data analytics, manufacturers will become more productive, efficient and agile. These attributes are vital to the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The pandemic is cited several times during the report as a primary reason to adopt digital technologies, with robots among them. Alain Dilworth, North West Adoption Programme Manager at Made Smarter disputed the claim that adopting robots replaces jobs which would otherwise have been occupied by people: “These figures are further evidence that robots, cobots, and process control automation technologies are creating more jobs than they displace, as well as a host of other benefits.”
Pick and place robots are an evolution in the robotics sector which have found their place – no pun intended – in confectionery, proving ideal for the careful and thorough handling and processing of chocolate and candy. They are typically installed between different processes in the production, to allow for the seamless transition of confectionery from one position to the other…
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