Automation and robotics have become commonplace in many manufacturing industries since the first industrial robot was installed by General Motors in 1961. The food industry has been much slower to adopt automation technology due to concerns over hygiene and the cleanability of complex automation systems and the need for flexibility as production needs change from product to product and from season to season.
The more complex nature of handling pliable and delicate food products has also influenced the slower uptake of automation in the food sector.
As with most technology, robotics did filter into the food industry, initially in the low risk, secondary packing areas where rigid and uniform packed products made automation easier to achieve. We are now in an era where robotics and automation systems are gradually becoming more common in high care food production areas. This change has been driven by the increased availability of washdown, IP65 rated robots which are easier to programme and by difficulties in finding labour for repetitive manual operations.
WMH has been at the forefront of technological advancements for many years, pushing the boundaries of possibilities to provide the most cost-effective flexible solution for its clients. Having worked with blue-chip food produces throughout the UK and further afield WMH has an in depth understanding of the requirements for robust reliable cleanable systems and has built a reputation for excellence in many areas.
With the hygiene requirements of a modern factory at the core of all projects WMH are able to develop bespoke solutions that meet the needs of their clients offering systems such as: product collation and positioning for the bakery industry, accurate and flexible liquid dosing for the savoury convenience food sector, robotic coating systems for the pharmaceutical industry, flexible cutting and slicing for dairy desserts and conveying and turning systems for the dairy industry.
Although automation is seen by many as the solution to all a factory’s production problems, WMH understands that there are times when we must recognise its limitations and consider the value and flexibility of production operatives.
If you are considering automation for your high-care production facility WMH’s team of engineers will be happy to discuss the available options and develop a solution that meets your production requirements with the flexibility to adapt to future changes.