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Automate Your Food Processing Plant for Greater Productivity and Food Safety


Date:2017-08-10


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The application of equipment and technology to produce products with the goal of reducing human intervention to enhance the process and increase the overall output is known as automation. With the advancements in technology, automation is now being applied in various manufacturing settings worldwide. One such industry that automation has proved to be highly beneficial is the food processing industry as provides the following benefits:

• reduced labor costs
• higher throughput
• higher quality
• greater product consistency
• improvement in food safety
• adherence to industry standards

If you are looking to automate operations at your food processing unit, take a look at some of the most popular automation options available:

1. Sortation Conveyors and Sorting Robots

Sortation conveyors and robots are used to presort the goods for further processing, sometimes by accumulating a pre-decided amount of goods in buffer compartments, depending on the next phase of food production process. In cases where buffer compartments are used, individual checking for batch numbers and weight is required which can be accommodated by adding conveyor belt scales. The conveyor weighing scales can be pre-set, so once the buffer storage reaches the target weight and number, the sorting algorithm analyses this data and commands sorting robots to drop it onto the conveyor. Then the conveyors pass the products under a detector which determines their weight, exact location and orientation. From this data, depending on the weight in each case, a sorting algorithm calculates the next set of instructions for both conveyor belt and robots.

2. Laser Slicers and Dicers

Some food products require precision cutting to create portions that meet the pre-decided size, weight and shape requirements. Such lasers are usually used in the meat processing industry to bring about consistency. These lasers are operated through a dedicated cutting software with first calculates the weight and size of the product and then commands the slicer to cut it into appropriate portions. While the slicer cannot always provide 100% accuracy, it will still be significantly more accurate than those cut without such high-tech measuring tools. This also simplifies the packaging process as the sorting conveyor scales simply have to move the individual portions downstream for packaging on the basis of their weight.

3. Automated Packaging 

The packaging phase of the food processing industry requires the highest level of automation. Any kind of food requires proper packaging to give it optimum shelf life and keep the product quality intact. These include automatic vacuum and sealing machines, skin packaging machines, boxing equipment and more. Due to the level of precision required in such processes, manufacturers are now integrating such the latest technology to bring about quality control. 

4. Depositors 

Depositors are used in processes that that require only certain amounts a particular ingredient or product, such as sandwich filling, or food items that require salad dressing, salsa, heavy sauces, ketchup and similar ingredients. The depositors are used to administer precise quantities of such ingredients without requiring human intervention to maintain accuracy and consistency. 

Taking from the success of the automation solutions mentioned above, manufacturers are now developing such solutions for other processes as well. And, with the wide range of benefits automation machines offer the food processing, their growing demand isn't surprising. In fact, the future of automation in food processing industries lies in the integration of the various automated solutions through intelligent linking so that the entire process can be carried out without requiring any additional supervision. 

However, high levels of automation work best for; operations that produce a limited number of food product items or in case of plants that produce high-volume items that are required to be further segregated as per batches. So, to ensure that your automation solutions are cost-effective and do indeed bring about operational efficiency, be sure to take a call after carefully understanding and analyzing the need and scope for automation at your plant.

Author Bio:

Kevin Hill heads up the marketing efforts and provides technical expertise to the sales and service teams at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, California. He enjoys everything mechanical and electronic, computers, the internet and spending time with family.