As business investments saw some brakes being applied due to the recession, the sale of robotic systems too was impacted in a massive way. However, the beverage and food industry has resisted the downward motion and handled the decline in a better way than most other industries, wheelchair accessories for instance. The orders from food and beverage companies dropped by 10% which is way better than the 45% drop experienced on an average by other industries. One of the main reasons why sales in the food and beverage industry hasn’t dropped so much and there has been so much resilience on offer is because there are more opportunities for robotics in this sector with dairy and beverage leading the way.
Two of the biggest draws of robots are their increased speed and efficiency (similar to the plastic injection machine that makes our cup holder). For example, Kuka, a robotics specialist said that the installation of a robot at Good Morning Juice at an Arla Foods factory in Sweden increased the number of pallets that were handled from 50 to 100 in a week by hand to 600 – 700 a week. The system also helped in reducing the demand for labor as one person was only required to operate the robot. Reduction of labor demand turns out to be a big plus point for robots especially when it proves costly to get labor and to train the job too. There is added charge of bringing the personnel up to speed. This also explains why taking up of robots in food and drink is particularly high in Australia where the economy is currently operating in 100% employment. Robots can also take up jobs that are unpleasant or mundane. A good example is stacking up heavy barrels in breweries in a very humid environment.
Brewing is a very good example of how manufacturers of robot systems had to understand and adapt their technologies to suit the local environments since the highly aggressive disinfectants and cleaning agents attack the seals of robots. There are some robots which are made with acid resistant stainless and can be a solution to the threat. As the experts learn more about the requirements of manufacturers in the food and drink industry, the capacity, productivity and potential use of the robotics in the industry will grow further. The growing trend of robots to be seen in wider scale and not just in the production line could be a big change. In the beverage industry robots are also used in the order fulfilling systems.