Try RIA’s Food & Beverage RSS

October 28, 2010

Try RIA’s Food & Beverage RSS:

Member content that is categorized for the Food & Beverage category on Robotics Online automatically goes into the feed, so members can start submitting content now.

According to statistics from Robotic Industries Association, there have been big gains all year in orders for food and consumer goods. (This category has gained 41% as of 2010 third quarter statistics.)

Robots for food processing? Yes! Robots can do that.



Try This QR Code for Free Automate Show Registration

October 27, 2010

Did you try our QR code for free show reg at Automate 2011? It just seemed natural to use this app for a high-tech show. What do you think?

You’ll need an app for this on your smart phone. (ScanLife has one that works on many types of smart phones.)

QR Code (2-D code) for free registration at Automate 2011


Robots for Food and Beverage Producers

October 25, 2010

By Suzanne Worsham, Robotic Industries Association

SCHUNK robot gripper for meat processing

Photo courtesy of RIA member SCHUNK.

Because health, cleanliness and efficiency are important factors for the food and beverage industry it is a growing segment for robotics. Robotic Industries Association supports this sector with an RSS feed on the Food & Beverage section of Robotics Online. It is updated with the latest news, case studies, products, tech papers and more offered by RIA member companies that serve this industry.

To subscribe to this feed copy this URL to your preferred RSS reader:

RIA is committed to spreading the word about food and beverage applications on other sites and with several initiatives to promote awareness. There is global interest in robotics for meat handling and packaging. We enjoyed reading an article from a French website about the robotics upsurge in the meat packaging industry and wanted to share it with our readers.

According to out of France, advancements in technology and development of flexible modular robotic systems means that more and more manual processes in meat processing and packaging can now be profitably automated. Read More

Robots Improve Safety at Abattoir

October 20, 2010

By Brian Huse, Director, Marketing & PR, Robotic Industries Association

Here at RIA, we keep finding lots of interesting information about robots in the food industry. This prompted the development of a Food & Beverage section on Robotics Online, and we keep an eye on influencers and companies that serve this market. It was nice to see ABB highlighted in an article on ProcessOnline which says…

“Meat processing is a labour-intensive, hands-on industry that requires extensive safety protocols to protect the health and safety of operators – not to mention the health and safety of consumers. Recently, an international meat processing company, based in Australia, needed to raise its operations to a safer and more productive level.”

Editor’s note: Australia is very active in developing robot and automation solutions for meat processing. Click here for the rest of the article…


Automate Honors 50 Years of Robotics

October 14, 2010

By Jeff Burnstein and Brian Huse, RIA

Joseph Engelberger and partner George Devol, Jr. sold the first American industrial robot, a Unimate, to General Motors which installed it in 1961. Early robots were used for die cast and spot welding operations where the work was hot and heavy.

Automate Show, March 21-24, 2011, Chicago, IL, USA, McCormick Place North Automate 2011 honors robotics industry pioneers with a special tribute at the Show, and a Gala Dinner presentation of the industry’s highest honor, the Joseph F. Engelberger Robotics Award.

Engleberger’s company, Unimation, eventually licensed its technology to Kawasaki Heavy Industries, setting in motion the start of the robotics industry in Japan and throughout the industrialized world.

Over the years, robots evolved from hydraulic arms with punch card controllers to electric servomotor driven arms controlled by processors with built-in machine vision. New worlds of applications opened as robots gained situational awareness through sensors and feedback loops, to the point where now surgeons remove gall bladders and farmers milk cows with robots.

Engelberger said the key to expanding applications of robots was to ask this question: “Do you think a robot could do that?” As we have seen in the past 50 years, very often the answer is, “Yes.”

Robotic Industries Association was formed in 1974 to represent robot manufacturers, component suppliers, systems integrators, users, educators, consultants and researchers. Over the years the industry has grown from a handful of companies in the U.S. into a worldwide network of automation leaders. RIA has grown right along with the industry and today represents some 250 members companies.

Automate 2011 celebrates the rich history of robotics and automation and presents a window into its future!

UM Robotics Team Swarms its way to Australia

October 10, 2010

Smart unmanned robot team and its human designers head to Australia for national competition

A smart swarm of unmanned four-wheeled robots that operate with a “hive mind” will participate in an international urban reconnaissance contest in Australia on Nov. 10.

Six students from the University of Michigan’s MAGIC team, which built the bots from the ground up, depart for the games Oct. 9.

MAGIC stands for Multi Autonomous Ground-robotic International Challenge, organized by the defense departments of the United States and Australia. Its goal is to demonstrate emerging unmanned technologies. It was open to academic and industry participants. Team Michigan is one of six finalists that will vie for $1.1 million in prize money.

This contest will showcase the state of the art in autonomous robot teams that work together to perform a task.

“Our robots may be simple looking, but their intelligence sets them apart. They can sense the world and understand what they’re seeing,” said Edwin Olson, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science who advises the team.

“The robots make almost all of their own decisions, which means that a single person can control 14 of them. They can find bombs, people, cars and other objects of interest. The robots build a map with all this information and transmit it back to the human commander in real time. Our system eliminates the need for humans to be put in harm’s way.”

Most research on robotics focuses on a single vehicle, Olson said. Today’s military robots aren’t autonomous at all, he said. There’s a human nearby who, like a puppeteer, micro-manages every action. Olson’s robots can divide complex tasks into smaller pieces, and split the work among multiple robots. By working in teams, the robots can tackle more difficult missions, and can complete them faster.

“In the end, these unmanned machines could mean fewer human casualties, both for soldiers and civilians caught in dangerous areas,” Olson said.

The students on the MAGIC team started designing and building their machines more than a year ago.

“We have mechanically beautiful machines thanks to help from about 30 undergraduates. We built custom circuit boards and electrical systems and our own sensor system. We’re using a camera and 3-d laser range finder, an inertial measurement unit, and our own wireless routing software,” Olson said.

In July, they learned they had qualified for the finals, based on a site visit from contest organizers.

At the contest, they will field about 14 robots. Their tasks will be to efficiently generate a map of the terrain and neutralize any bombs or enemy combatants without harming nearby civilians in a 500-by-500-meter arena. They will have about 3.5 hours to complete three phases. Each of the six teams will run on a different day of the competition week and the winner won’t be announced until Nov. 22. First place wins $750,000 in research funding.

Way to go, Toledo! (Robots tough enough for Wranglers)

October 7, 2010

Way to go, Toledo! KUKA has been bery bery good to you. Love the new Jeeps! Robots pump out 500,000 Wranglers.

The KUKA Systems manufacturing operation in Toledo, Ohio celebrated the production of its 500,000th Jeep Wrangler car body last month. The half-million mark was reached as the plant successfully transitioned to manufacturing 2011 model Wranglers.

This represents an important milestone for the four-year-old venture known as the KUKA Toledo Production Operations (KTPO), which has earned a reputation as one of the most efficient body-in-white manufacturing centers in the North American auto industry. KTPO is one of four plants comprising the Toledo Supplier Park, the only venture of its type in North America. Different contractors, each in its own building located at Chrysler Group’s Toledo Assembly complex perform separate vehicle assembly functions for the Wrangler. KTPO builds the body-in-white, which is the unfinished, unpainted vehicle body that is mated later to the chassis. Magna Steyr operates the paint shop and Mobis North America, a division of Hyundai-Mobis, assembles the chassis. Chrysler performs final assembly.

The supplier park began producing the Wrangler in 2006 and soon became one of the most efficient assembly operations on the continent. For two years now, a leading third party agency that measures auto industry efficiency has reported that it takes less time to build a complete vehicle in the supplier park than at any other North American assembly plant, domestic or foreign-owned.

KTPO’s first time capability rate – the percentage of Wrangler bodies passing initial inspection and going to the paint shop without secondary inspection or reprocessing work – is industry-leading, says KTPO managing director Jake Ladouceur. With exceedingly low staff turnover and a strong relationship with its United Auto Workers union local, “we’re able to focus our joint efforts on the product for continuous improvement.”

In designing and equipping KTPO, KUKA Systems leveraged its expertise as a leading designer and integrator of automated assembly processes for major automakers. The Toledo line is equipped with 245 robots and is staffed by 240 employees working two shifts per day.

“KTPO is showcasing how KUKA Systems can implement a state-of-the-art body shop that year after year sustains the highest level of operational efficiency and product quality,” says Larry Drake, president and CEO, KUKA System Group.

About KUKA Systems:
KUKA Systems Corp North America, a Michigan-based company, is part of KUKA Systems Group of Augsburg, Germany, a leading global supplier of flexible automation systems for the automotive, aerospace, energy and other industries in which highly automated processes are required. A workforce of over 3,500 around the world works on ideas, concepts and solutions for automated production, and supplies products and services for virtually all tasks in the industrial processing of metallic and non-metallic materials. The company’s products and services are presented and marketed by subsidiaries and sales offices in Europe, the Americas and Asia. In 2009 KUKA Systems recorded orders valued at around 615 million euros.