The demand for food is increasing with the exponentially increasing population of this world and as the global population has reached over 7.5 billion now, the food industry is changing and accommodating to produce and deliver enough to meet the demands. Consumers want better quality, sustainable food available at their convenience and pandemic has a major role in making people want everything at their doorstep with everything going digital and online delivery startups are almost on the verge of saturating. During this uncertain period of rapidly shifting and changing dynamics of the food industry, robotics and automation are offering solutions in a variety of ways. These two factors are affecting every possible link in the food supply chain. Though compared to other industries, the food industry has been relatively slow in adopting robotics and automation in its systems and processes. But in these two pandemic years, a lot is happening and much more is yet to happen, from the field to the kitchens….
Let us discuss how.
3 BEST APPLICATIONS OF ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY till 2021
- Robots in food manufacturing – The key solution to producing and manufacturing enough to meet tremendously rising food demands can only be automation undoubtedly. The value of the global autonomous food manufacturing industry is forecasted to rise to $2.5 Billion by 2022 i.e. doubling is going to happen in the span of five years from 2017-2022. The major driving force is the Asia-Pacific market as ready-to-eat foods are highly popular in those belts and thus the demand and supply are more. The food manufacturing processes can be categorized into two different stages including:
- Primary Processing- In this stage of food manufacturing, raw food products are cleaned, sorted, blended, and transported to their respective further processing places or the clients. The major robotic applications in this stage include butchery and sorting of fruits and vegetables.
- Secondary Processing- In this stage of food manufacturing, raw food products after primary processing are taken as ingredients, and these ingredients are combined to form new products by cooking, chilling, baking, roasting, grilling, etc. The major robotics applications in this stage include product sorting, defect removal, and mixing.
Mostly robotics has widespread applications in the secondary processing stages of food manufacturing. Anyways, the best system is when robots and humans come together with their unique expertise to perform together and contribute to human society.
- ROBOTS IN FOOD PACKAGING – Now, the entire food packaging process is automated including every step in each stage. The accuracy, precision, and speed that these robots exhibit are beyond human capabilities. The huge numbers in which these robots pack food without getting exhausted is also showing unimaginable potential to cater to the huge population of the globe. Food packaging has always been that part of the food industry that utilizes robotics and automation the most. The food packaging processes go through three different stages:
- Primary Packaging- Foods are packed individually.
- Secondary Packaging- Individual food packages are grouped.
- Tertiary Packaging- Secondary food packages are grouped for shipping to the shopping stores or directly to the consumers.
- ROBOTICS IN FOOD DELIVERY – The first successful drone food delivery got done by Dominoes and ever since there has been no turning back. The Global Lockdown due to the pandemic also gave momentum to the whole thing. The market for it is rising at a phenomenal rate now. Online food delivery portals such as Swiggy and Zomato have already inculcated in us the addiction to getting food at home 24×7. Delivery by humans at all times of the day as well as night poses a lot of challenges and robots might help in it.
- During national lockdowns, drones helped in a lot of places to deliver food and provide relief to satiate thousands of hungry people all around the world in such an unprecedented global humanitarian crisis of coronavirus.
- Drones do not have to face a lot of issues that humans face on the ground such as traffic, bad weather, poorly constructed roads, etc.
It is just the tip of the iceberg. A whole new transformation journey is yet to unfold for the food industry with the involvement of robotics and automation in every aspect. Some of the great innovations in robotics for the food industry are seen in the WORLD ROBOTICS CHAMPIONSHIP where the youth of different parts of the world come up at one stage with their creative ideas to solve different problems of the world through robots.