Is automation right for you?
Historically, the food manufacturing sector, in contrast to other manufacturing industries, has not widely understood or appreciated the benefits of automation. Reasons often cited are a lack of in-house engineering expertise, short productions runs and regular product changeovers, and the volatility of supply contacts. When you factor in a perception that automated systems are hard to program, and lack the flexibility of manual labour, the challenge to automation suppliers is obvious.
The good news is that attitudes are changing. Manufacturers are realising the benefits of automation right through the production process. They are no longer restricted to the established end-of- line palletising and packing, but are now increasingly extending back to the ‘wet end’ of the process. By automating portioning, depositing and decorating processes, you can add huge value to your business. With the right design and planning, automation will future-proof your operation whilst increasing flexibility, lowering costs and boosting productivity.
It’s not just about saving labour and replacing workers with automated systems – far from it. At Newtech, our daily challenge is to convince our customers to think ahead and automate. We are constantly talking to them about reductions in waste, less giveaway, increased production capacity and safer and more hygienic working environments. That’s not to say that every process is ripe for automating and we’d be the first to tell you that. But we’d urge you not to ignore the real benefits. It might be something as simple an automated cheese slicer which replaces a primitive wire cutter; or a complete robot line which hugely improves line output, running a full shift pattern with minimum labour and minimum product handling. And, because we promote a modular concept, you can start small and build up a system as your business (and budget) allow it.
There is real evidence that the food industry is coming to grips with the benefits of automation – we have seen an increase of 300% in the demand for industrial robots over the last 5 years! Equally, robot manufacturers and integrators are doing their bit by adapting their products for the food industry. For example, leading supplier ABB have wash-down and stainless steel units specifically designed to meet the strict cleaning requirements demanded by the ‘high care’ food handling environment. This highlights the hygiene benefits of robots doing the work for you – no risk of contamination through illness or foreign bodies, which means less manual handling and a safer way to get food to the consumer.
If you would like to trial your products on one of our ultrasonic slicing solutions, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 (0) 1234 783680.