Robots are increasingly moving into the primary side of the food industry, according to Sebastien Schmitt, robotic division manager at Stäubli North America. Automation is also enjoying steady growth in the secondary end of the business, he said.
The market for robotics in the food and beverage industry will experience a 29% compound annual growth rate from 2015 through 2019, predicts a Technavio report. The research firm cited drivers such as the demand for clean and contamination-free production areas. MarketsandMarkets forecasts that the food robotics market will be worth $2.5 billion by 2022.
Countries such as Japan, the U.S., South Korea, and Australia have a higher demand for industrial robots in their food and beverage companies, said Technavio.
Suppliers are quickly expanding the ability for robot end users to change parameters on the fly for products of different shapes and sizes. Features include programmable speed controls and monitoring of position, force, and quality, said Ed Neff, president of SMAC Moving Coil Actuators, at the ProFood Tech event in Chicago this past month.
Such improvements mean increased output, improved quality, and reduced expenses, particularly in food and liquid processing.
Getting a grip on produce
The food industry is a large and fast-growing segment for robotic automation, noted Carl Vause, CEO of Soft Robotics Inc. in Cambridge, Mass.
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