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Automated food production: More enjoyment thanks to suitable software and service offerings

Worldwide, 54,000 new robots have entered the food industry in the last five years. Everyone is happy about the fact that they take over physically demanding tasks in food production. Less well known, however, is that robots are also easy on the nerves – if the software and service are right.


Some software solutions that are specifically suitable for the food industry are still in development. Others are already appealing to customers. The KUKA.PickControl tech package, for example, is ideal when several robots on several assembly lines have to handle fast pick-and-place tasks.

KUKA Portfolio Manager Dieter Rothenfußer.

“With this software, complex tasks such as assigning picks to up to ten robots via up to three conveyor belts can be solved very easily,” informs Dieter Rothenfußer, portfolio manager at KUKA. In addition, KUKA.PickControl works with graphical support: The software contains a programming interface for linking own image processing systems, for example in 3D.

 

For object detection in 2D, the KUKA.VisionTech software comes into question. It is supplied with a high-quality camera in an IP 67 housing and makes it possible to use robots even in unstructured environments, and to determine and evaluate product characteristics. Regardless of the camera and vision system, the following applies to KUKA.PickControl: a material flow simulation and standardised PLC interfaces simplify configuration and commissioning right from the start.

Software for automated food production: More flexibility, clears the head more often

The KUKA.PLC mxAutomation software is also increasingly finding its way into the food and beverage industry. It is always used when the motion programming of the robot is to be carried out by the PLC.

A KUKA robot at Proxima Centauri. © Proxima Centauri

Dieter Rothenfußer explains: “In some plant concepts, the robot is supposed to fit seamlessly into an existing operating concept of the higher-level cell controller; in other cases, it is simply not possible to find sufficiently trained robot programmers. PLC technicians, however, are available in almost every team. With its function libraries for all commercially available PLC controllers, KUKA.PLC mxAutomation is the ideal solution in these cases”.

 

If you want to concentrate exclusively on the optimum palletising pattern at the end of the line and not think about robot programming, the KUKA.PalettTech software is a real support in food production. Dieter Rothenfußer lists the most important advantages: “Graphic definition of palletising patterns and pallet positions, standardised error routines and monitoring, interfaces for customer-specific adaptations – all features that significantly shorten the commissioning of a palletising application and simplify operation.” And make companies more efficient.

KUKA robots in the food industry stand for efficiency and speed, even in frosty environments.

Service for your robots and machines in food production: replenishment in the pots and on the plates

Just as a starter, a dessert and the right drink round off a meal, KUKA’s service complements the range of products for the food industry. Because here in particular, a complete failure would have serious consequences. Restaurants, food retailers, bakeries and many more would be temporarily unable to offer their customers anything. That is why more than 1400 service specialists in 50 countries are working for KUKA to prevent such scenarios. In addition, many customers book employee training courses at KUKA College so that their teams are familiar with the system. Regular maintenance prevents malfunctions in food production. However, if a robot fails, help is available around the clock.

It helps that the KUKA.Connectivity Box is installed as standard on every new system. In the event of a malfunction, it is possible to determine digitally what caused the fault. In some cases, the problem can then be solved by remote maintenance, in others by a service technician who – with a corresponding service contract – can be on site within a maximum of two hours. The KUKA spare parts service is considered the best on the market. This means that the robots are back in service quickly and ensure that the pots and plates are replenished.

From meat processing to baked goods and dairy products – learn more about the possibilities of automation in the food industry on the KUKA website.

About the author
Sebastian Schuster
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