Generic Technologies and Technical Challenges in Food Automation

albanianboneyardAI and Robotics

Nov 2, 2013 (4 years and 5 days ago)

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Robotics

Generic Technologies and
Technical Challenges in Food
Automation

Darwin G. Caldwell

Centre for Robotics and Automation


University of Salford.


Robotics

Centre for Robotics and
Automation


Founded in late 1980’s


15 researchers

End
-
effectors, haptics, biomedical robotics, industrial
robotics, control eng.


20+ Postgraduate students


25% in food related activities

Recent Industry based R & D


ASAP


Food Factory in a Pipe


CASPAR


ERDF


NW Industry Support




Robotics

Robotics and Automation


Robotics

Robotics and Automation


Robotics

Food Automation

The Need for Change








Improve Yields


Reduce Waste/Rework


Cope with Short Lead Times


Increase Profitability


Cope with Product Customisation

Meet Hygiene Standards

Improve Quality and Consistency

Comply with Legislation

Provide Traceability

Powerful Retail Customers

Rapid Response To Customer Demand

(Skilled) Labour Shortages

Expanding EU/International Competition

Robotics


Food Automation Barriers

Real and Perceived








Human


Payback on replacing unskilled labour is low


Operators have high dexterity, accuracy and flexibility


Lack of Technical Expertise in the Industry


Actions of the human operators have to be mimicked



Product


Variable Packaging Combinations / Promotions


Short Production Runs


Short Term Focus


Supply and demand are seasonal and regional


Natural variability of Product v Consistency


Industry


Inherent Conservatism


Low margins


low investment


Robotics

Food Sector Automation Issues

Technical


lack of equipment suitable for the production cycle time


the modularity and the flexibility needed with respect to:

robots, sensors, grippers and systems layouts.


products that can withstand the "wash down" standards


cold areas


Reliability!!!

Skills and competences compared to automotive

Typically less competence (compared to automotive)


installation


specification


maintenance


running of highly automated production.


Robotics

Why Use Robots?


Quality improvements



High positioning precision


High repeatability


No deviation due to fatigue/ high concentration


Highly accurate inspection and measurement using sensors.



Improves

visual appearance

Perceived quality of the product

Fault detection


Reduced materials costs, rework and wastage



Robotics

Why Use Robots?


Improved Working Environment


Short term fatigue or long term injury or disability.


Fewer Health and safety legislation issues


Issues


Heavy lifting

> 20 tons per shift



Repetitive work

> 4000 single actions per shift


Contaminated environments (solvents, noise, heat, dust)


Jobs requiring continuously high levels of concentration.



Robotics

Why Use Robots?


Flexibility to Change

Robots/Automation can be extremely flexible.


Robots/Automation can cope with short life cycles.


Robot arms have higher/better capabilities than
humans

Robotics


Robot Utilisation

Financial

Social

Technical

Can the robot perform the task
-

speed, accuracy,
payload, repeatability?

Is Positioning and Orientation required?

Is the task simple and repetitive?

Is the cycle times acceptable?

Is this an established application?

Are there quality control issues?

Is inspection part of the job?

Task does not require Intelligence (Commonsense)?


Robotics

Factory Robots


Robotics


Industrial Robots

Robotics

Robots

Are they right for this sector?

Degrees of Freedom


5 or 6 dof typical


Food requirements

typically x, y, z and perhaps rotate

Payload


1kg
-
500kg


Most food products are under 0.5kg

Accuracy/Repeatability


Operators typically place to mm


Robots are accurate to 0.02
-
0.05mm

Reliability


>50,000hrs


Robotics

Industry Response to Automation



The scourge of introducing mechanisation and
automation in product assembly and packaging
operations in much of the food industry is the
reduced intrinsic reliability of the resulting
system



C. A. Pearson Consultant, ‘Food Factory of the Future’ Conference, June 2001,
Gothenburg.

Robotics

Current Robots

Are they right for this sector?

Speed


7.5


10m/s


Humans 1 cycle/s maximum 1
-
2m/s

Envelope


1m
-
2.5m


Humans 0.75
-
1m


movement is possible!

Programming/Interface


Automotive


high experience base


Food industry ….

Gripper/ End
-
effector

Sensor

Cost



Robotics

Over
-
specification?




Robotics

Position and Orientation

Essential part of design process

Humans are highly tolerant of imprecision

Humans are imprecise

Sensory systems permit realignment


Vision


Expensive

Not important in current layout and operation


Conveyor transfers


Lack of machine training and operation skill


Acceptance of poor machine reliability


Use of Low cost and poorer materials

Robotics


Robotics

Positioning and Orientation


Robotics

ERDF

3 year project


Available to SME


Objective 2 Fully legible and transitional areas


Technology reviews


Short term research studies


Robotics

Robotics in the Food Industry

Conclusions
-

Observations

Training


Companies that use robots well often develop their
own robots


Commitment


Many/most failures in the UK have been caused by

operators not buying into the project

Quality improvements are possible

Improved Working environment



Robotics

Robotics in the Food Industry

Conclusions
-

Observations

Robots have equal/better performance to
human arms

Robots are designed for some sectors but not
generally the food sector

Positioning and Orientation is costly to regain


keep it.

Flexibility


Robots only need to be trained once