Robotics in the Confection
Rick Tallian, Consumer Industry Manager, ABB Robotics
Robots have been commonly installed in the confection industry with great success for palletizing and secondary packaging applications. Recent advancements over the last
few years in robotic technology, however,
coupled with more challenging production demands facing candy manufacturers,
have a caused a trend of robots migrating
further up in the processing line.
One major development is the appropriate and growing interest to provide
ultra-sanitary environments in all phases
of the production process. The emergence of washdown models of high
speed picking robots, for example, have
allowed many candy makers to install
robots in raw product handling and primary packaging applications, while moving members of the labor force to other
areas of the operation.
Though the recent salmonella scare at
a Midwestern chocolate manufacturer
appears to have been a false alarm, it is
reflective of the uncertainty that can exist
when product is exposed to humans during the production process. No matter
what precautions are taken, humans are,
after all, human, and foolproof hygiene
practices and early detection of some
sicknesses are just not possible. Robots
that can be thoroughly cleaned after
each shift provide levels of sanitation that
are not possible through other means.
Robots also do only what they are programmed to do — no picking of product
off the ground or enjoying a quick snack.
In addition to picking and placing applications there are numerous examples
where robots are actually part of the
production process. A chocolate plant
recently installed an ABB robot to handle
the molds for hollow chocolate figurines,
while another customer is using a robotic
dispensing system to decorate a vast
array of seasonal candies.
Overall performance attributes and
advancements in vision guidance and
programming simplicity are additional fac-
tors that have furthered the penetration of
robots in confectionery operations.
Rick has 30 years of experience in engineering, application development and
management of robotic based automated systems, with significant experience in
sanitary robotic automation applications
in the FDA, USDA meat and USDA-3A
dairy environments. Today Rick manages
the robotic based automation for ABB in
the US consumer industry market, including the manufacturing and distribution in
food, beverage, chemical, pharmaceutical and medical device industries.