Powering the future of farming

In times past, farmers were at the mercy of the elements to determine a successful yield of crops. As the global population grows and consumer preferences evolve, today’s modern farmer must also consider the scarcity of natural resources, the threat of climate change and the growing problem of food waste.

The oldest human industry has undergone a transformation like no other. The 1800s saw the use of chemical fertilizers, while farmers began to plan their work using satellites in the late 1900s. Today, the world needs to produce more food against a background of climate change, which is adversely affecting crop yields and encouraging crop diseases. So, how can we produce 70 per cent more food to meet the needs of a growing population, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Smart farming offers a solution.

Using remote sensors to avoid costly manual monitoring, informed decisions can be made using real time data. This allows farmers to manage their inputs, such as water and animal feeds, more effectively to increase yields while maintaining minimal labor costs.

READ MORE: Digitisation makes for more productive and sustainable farming

In the last few decades we’ve seen the rise of indoor urbanised farming, the use of aquaponic farming, and a vast departure from the traditional field cattle farming of old. The Third Agricultural Revolution, which we are arguably in the midst of, is based upon IT solutions, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, sensors, and drones.

The use of robotics for repetitive tasks is a trend across many industries. In farming, farmbots are employed to perform once laborious manual tasks including seeding, planting, watering, weeding and harvesting. Farmdrones are also utilized for monitoring purposes and data on plant health and soil conditions are fed back into the system.

When making significant upgrades to a system, power quality issues must be addressed. Although robotic systems and sensor networks have practical benefits, they often use electrical and electronic components that can introduce harmonic currents into electrical networks. If the harmonic levels in an electrical system are too high, this can cause load failure. To mitigate against power failure and unplanned downtime, ABB’s capacitors and filters product portfolio offers a range of solutions.

In particular, the ABB PQF active filters tackle the problems caused by harmonic currents, load unbalance and reactive power demand, while offering a host of system benefits in low voltage networks. Compliance with the strictest power quality regulations is not something that farmers should overlook. ABB’s solutions are rigorously tested to ensure filtering efficiency and system reliability, so that smart farms can operate with uninterrupted systems for maximum productivity.

Smart farming has the power to increase yield and efficiency, raising overall productivity of the supply chain without requiring significantly more land investment. With this, farmers are able to reliably and sustainably produce yields to maintain the growing global population, without being at the mercy of increasingly unpredictable climates.

To discover ABB’s wide range of high, medium and low voltage capacitors and filters, visit their product area of the website and explore how to address power considerations that arise through smart farming

SMC provides 4.0 solution for New Zealand-based manufacturer

Residing in Hawkes Bay, Hawk is a proudly New Zealand-owned and operated company. Sustainability is at the heart of the organisation and as a moulded fibre packaging suppliers, all of its products are made from 100 per cent recycled paper.  Its packaging solutions are used for, among other things, apple trays in the horticulture industry.

“Our paper is deliberately sourced from kerbside collected recycling paper. We don’t use any nasty bleaches, pigments, biocides or toxic chemicals in our manufacturing. Our products are recyclable and compostable after end use,” said David Styles, engineering manager of Hawk Packaging.

“Our facilities are located in the centre of the largest apple growing region to ensure minimised transport requirements and a lower carbon footprint,” Styles said.

Innovation for an innovative company
With this unique approach to business, energy savings remains a fundamental focus and partnering with like-minded suppliers is key. As a preferred supplier and in collaboration with East Coast Automation, SMC offered an innovative solution to a problem that was hindering Hawk’s production processes.

READ MORE: One cable solution for automation in processing factories

Area sales manager for SMC in New Zealand, Dirk Siekmann explained that a fault in a stacker robot designed to stack bundles of finished products on top of pallets was causing downtime. “An intermittent fault in the control of this particular robot was instigated by a communication cable failure. The robot had seen its fair amount of wear and tear after years of rotation and bending”.

Out with the old, in with the new
Working together with East Coast Automation, SMC recommended their recently launched Wireless Fieldbus System, EX600-W. The EX600-W met the brief to deliver on time, on spec and on budget. “The installation was simple, and the solution was the perfect match for this particular application” said Chris Robertson, director of East Coast Automation.

Answering to the call for more robotic applications the EX600-W is currently being used extensively in the packaging industry, and the response from the market has been overwhelmingly positive.

According to Siekmann, this decentralised solution is EtherNet/IP and PROFINET compatible, can withstand electric noise and is suitable for harsh, industrial environments. “This wireless fieldbus system can manage both digital and analogue signals, as well as pneumatic products – making it a flexible solution for all applications”.

The EX600-W was designed to make robotic applications easier. The EX600-W is small and light weight, fits onto the robot head, has minimal wiring, offers remote control and fault finding, among other features.

“The EX600-W uses the 2.4 GHz ISM frequency band and every 5 msec frequency hopping. The noise resistance design makes it even suitable in welding environments,” says Siekmann. “We are pleased to say that we have a happy customer.”

Lessons in mass production

Socrates and his student, Plato, are a perfect example of how good leaders are shaped by observant students. Darcy Simonis, industry network leader for food and beverage at ABB, explains what can be learned from global manufacturing leaders such as China.

China, a leader in mass production, has firm plans to build upon its proud history by investing in the robotics and automation industry. However, because labor is plentiful, mass production is not always automated in China at present. Because China’s working-age population is falling significantly, labor costs are increasing by 15-20 per cent year on year, compared to only 1.6 per cent in the US. This opens opportunities for automation across all economies.

In 2014, the International Federation of Robotics announced that China was buying more robots than any other country each year, partly due to government funds as part of China’s five-year plan to develop intelligent manufacturing. This trend has continued, in 2015 China bought more robots than every European country combined. Generally speaking, Chinese manufacturers are choosing to buy robots from the same global suppliers as other countries, including ABB, despite there being a number of small Chinese robot manufacturers.

READ MORE: ABB awarded unique aquaculture project

“This trend is driven by the Chinese Government´s 2025 initiative to support automation. The country aims to become a leader in automation globally,” explained Joe Gemma, President of the International Federation of Robotics, in February 2017.

Given the clear manufacturing focus in several governments’ foreign policies, including UK and US policy, it’s clear that the progress China is making in automating mass production is something that many countries aspire to. But there is also a clear reciprocal relationship, just as there is with Plato and Socrates, which is allowing countries around the globe to benefit from technological advances.

Mass production became possible because technology and processes evolved to the point that it was not necessary for the majority of workers to be skilled. Three decades of economic growth towards the end of the last millennium was powered by the flow of labor from countryside to city in China. This was a direct result of automation allowing workers to move into manufacturing without retraining from their agricultural background.

Chinese entrepreneurship led to rural inhabitants starting their own manufacturing businesses in the 1980s. To take full advantage of economies of scale, similar entrepreneurs eventually pooled together in production areas and development zones. One good example of this is the city of Datang, where eight million socks are produced each year, one third of the world’s total.

As well as being a thriving hotbed of entrepreneurship, China is also the largest food and beverage market in the world, relying highly on imported goods. In an effort to produce more in the country, China’s 35,000 food processing and manufacturing plants are finding success by using automation in innovative ways. For example, by using automation controlled LED lighting and an innovative growth liquid, Jinpeng Plant Factory outside of Beijing grows up to 15 million seedlings a year in a 14,000-square foot area.

Even in the mass markets of China, automation is being used to great benefit. Reduction in production times, increases in accuracy and repeatability, less human error and increased safety are all benefits cited by Chinese plant managers. However, in keeping with Chinese tradition, automation is being used successfully in innovative, unusual ways to remarkable success.

“What you’re seeing is a really high level of investment in Chinese manufacturing, but most of this is not going to expanding capacity. It’s making the workers more efficient,” explained Andy Rothman, an economist in Hong Kong.

It would be possible to argue that China is the observant student, learning about automation from the rest of the world. Nevertheless, just as Plato was inspired by Socrates, global manufacturing would be wise to pay close attention to China’s progress over the next decade, perhaps the student will quickly become the master.


High-resolution, high-speed cameras for robotics applications

The i-SPEED 220 and i-SPEED 221 from iX Cameras represent the first cameras in a class of small footprint, easy-to-use, low-cost and high-resolution high speed cameras. A high-resolution 1600×1600 CMOS fast-transfer sensor allows the imagery of minute details even when zoomed in. The maximum full frame rate of 600 fps with both a global exposure shutter and optional G-shock housing makes this high-speed camera suitable for robotics, auto-crash testing, graphics inspection, 3-D biomechanics, web inspection, and more.

The i-SPEED 220/221 high-speed cameras fit in a briefcase, consume little power and create nice images that can be zoomed and analysed. Image transfer is simple via Ethernet. The one-hour battery that comes standard on the model 221 coupled with a standard laptop make this camera suitable for untethered portable field work. Add a layer of rugged durability with the optional Hi-G shock package.

The iX Cameras i-SPEED 2 high-speed cameras provide a variety of storage levels from 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and 16GB, allowing for everything from discrete transient event capture to extended full resolution record times of over 11 seconds. The cameras come in either a mono or colour version.

Control 2 Series software provides a user-friendly interface for recording, playback, and editing of i-SPEED 2 high-speed videos. This powerful camera control software has been developed specifically to handle large amounts of data, fast transmission, and ultra-slow motion in videos recorded at up to 200,000 frames per second. Control 2 Series is suitable for a range of video applications, including manufacturing and process automation, quality assurance testing, research and development and biomechanics.

Other features include certification to 100 G shock, 10 G vibration, long recording times with up to 16 GB memory (Model 221 only), small package fits on microscopes and in tight spaces as well as global exposure shutter and interchangeable C-mount lenses.

Retail robotics launched in ice-cream store in Melbourne

 Niska, an Australian start-up company pioneering retail robotics, is bringing retail robotics to Australia for the first time with its ice-cream store. Scheduled to open in Melbourne this September, Niska offers a unique experience with Australian-made gourmet and artisan ice-cream served a team of robot attendants Pepper, Eka and Tony. 

The robots harness advanced robotic technology to create an innovative customer experience filled with meaningful interactions from the moment a customer steps into the store.

Niska will showcase world class service and high-quality ice cream and toppings, with flavours including; Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Hazelnut, Rocky Road, Rainbow, Cookies and Cream and much more.

“We’re excited to bring a new offering to Melbourne’s bustling food scene and we can’t wait for everyone to experience Niska and meet our robot team. It is set to become a must-do experience for anyone living in or visiting Melbourne,” said Anton Morus, Director of Niska.

“There is no better place to take the kids these school holidays. They can experience world class robotics and enjoy delectable ice-cream in a safe, exciting, interactive and fun environment,” Morus added.
“Robots serving single scoops is great fun and a real feather in the cap for Victorian innovation,” said Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade, Martin Pakula.
“There is amazing work going on here in areas like robotics and artificial intelligence – and the ice-cream’s also pretty good,” he said.

A recent report by Deloitte highlighted the importance of unique offerings such as Niska, by stating that bricks-and-mortar retailers are realising the importance of creating unique and curated merchandise offers, an exciting and entertaining atmosphere.1

Kate Orlova, Niska CEO and co-founder, said the company aims to revolutionise the retail space. “For us, ice-cream is just the beginning. We’re looking to expand the robotics into other areas of retail. The future is here and it is exciting! We look forward to changing the retail game and pioneering retail robotics.”

Visitors will also have the chance to take selfies with Pepper, Niska’s social humanoid robot, and their delectable ice cream, and make use of the many photo spaces within the store.

Niska is now open and is located at Tenancy 20, Crossbar Building Federation Square, Melbourne 3000

Technology in agriculture critical to success

Adoption of emerging technologies in Australian agriculture is expanding at a rate faster than the consumer’s capacity to understand the opportunities — creating an urgent need to explore community perception and regulatory challenges around the use of new technologies.

This is the focus of two new AgriFutures Australia-funded reports: Emerging technologies in agriculture: Consumer perceptions around emerging agtech undertaken by GHD and AgThentic and Emerging technologies in agriculture: Regulatory and other challenges by ACIL Allen Consulting.

The reports deliver critical insights for government, industry and Rural Research and Development Corporations in the areas of regulation and community perceptions. They consider changes needed to safeguard industry use of new technologies and point out the opportunity cost of getting it wrong.

Robotics, for example, can reduce producer operating costs. For a farm investing $100,000 per annum on insecticides, herbicides, and fertilisers, it is claimed that robots could reduce these costs by up to 40 per cent due to the bots’ ability to spread chemicals in precise locations and in optimum volumes.

The value-add is clear, however ACIL Allen’s research reveals farmers need guidance to help demystify common concerns accompanying the use of robotics, such as insurance, ethics, standards and data ownership and protection.

Meanwhile, research conducted by GHD and AgThentic revealed there is confusion and scepticism around blockchain amongst primary producers, as it is often associated with cryptocurrencies. These perceptions can lead to barriers to adoption which in turn effect consumers.

Understanding and, where possible, proactively identifying and mitigating perception issues is critical to ensure farmers continue to adopt beneficial technologies, while consumers have confidence and trust in the way their food and fibre goods are produced.

AgriFutures Australia managing director, John Harvey, insists Australian agriculture needs to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to understanding the potential regulatory impact of technologies, and possible negative perceptions that might prevent technology use.

“With the sector likely to increase its reliance on new technologies over the short to medium term, it’s important not to become complacent by assuming we will always have free and easy access to new technologies,” said Harvey.

“These reports offer clear actions to help industry and government understand what needs to be done to support agtech adoption on our farms.

“If we don’t address these actions, the sector may be locked out of emerging technologies or be unable to capitalise on opportunities that our international competitors have access to. The reports are instrumental in identifying what the challenges and impediments are and provide practical solutions in areas that will have the greatest impact.”

AgriFutures Australia senior manager, business development, Jennifer Medway said the reports promote the need for industry, government and agribusiness to proactively engage with consumers to identify possible concerns early to overcome adoption bottlenecks.

“We take the role of helping to prepare industry for what is coming seriously, and keeping our finger on the pulse to proactively address issues as they arise is key to this,” said Medway


Highlights of Fine Food Australia include focus on robotics and health foods

Fine Food Australia has come to an end after a week packed with food trend insights and robotics making a name in the industry.

After catering to thousands at the Melbourne Convention centre, the four-day event came to a close on the 13th of September.

Fine Food Australia event director Minnie Constan said more than 25,000 people attended the four-day expo.

The exact figures will be released in a few weeks when an audit has been completed, she said.

READ: Countries place value on different aspects of food products, export advisor says

“It was incredible. There was a buzz around the show floor that I haven’t seen for many years. It’s certainly showing the passion that is in this industry.”

The expo was about innovation, connection and growth, she said. “There was a lot of new innovation.”

“There were a number of very exciting products that will be heading to the market, including electronics and new food,” said Constan.

Hot topics included the use of mobile apps and robotics in the food industry, as well as meatless protein alternatives, she said.

For the first time ever, there was a Cobot at Fine Food Australia, which is a cooperative robot.

The company that showcased the Cobot was Roto Charge, which sells bakery pumps and related equipment that deposit fillings into pastry products.

Food Industry Foresight director Rod Fowler said Roto Charge had doubled the capacity of its standard equipment by adding a robot to its standard systems.

The new generation smart robots are intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace.

This makes them different to other robots that are designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance.

The top ten trends of 2018 were discussed at a Fine Food Australia forum, with the help of Food Industry Foresight, which provides research and analysis into food and beverage markets in Australasia, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The trends include operators working smarter – to continue striving in an increasingly tough market – and the reinvention of hamburgers.

Hamburgers maintain their top position as the number one flexible food concept and they continue to transform as consumers look for new flavours.

The Food Industry Foresight found the desire for protein substitutes was rising as people considered the environmental impacts of meat.

Casual dining has grown over the past five years in Australia and the cafes are adapting their coffee products to offer cheaper home and work brewing options.

People are also wanting to know the origins of food when it comes to eating at restaurants, robots are entering the food service industry and food apps are gaining traction.

The Food Industry Foresight noted the number of meal options when eating out are growing.

Eateries are also striving to change the look, opening hours and menus of their establishments to create a more unique experience for patrons.

With innovation hot on everyone’s minds, the variety of products at Fine Food Australia were diverse.

New products included Little Beauties’ sundried kiwifruit slices, Oliver Lane’s gluten-free golden turmeric and cardamom bread, Hemp Foods Australia’s salted caramel crunch bar.


NZ dairy robotics company attracts Australasian investors

The latest investment offering for inspection industry disruptor Invert Robotics has closed after attracting considerable interest from a number of high net worth and institutional investors from across Australia and New Zealand.

The company provides non-destructive inspection services using state of the art mobile climbing robots. The climbing robots enable precise and accurate remote inspection of non-ferromagnetic surfaces such as stainless steel, carbon fibre, aluminium and glass. The company’s patented robots are installed with high definition cameras and sensor technology to allow for equipment to be assessed for maintenance and for preventative analysis on a remote basis. Inspectors are fed real-time video during the inspection that allows for immediate and highly accurate analysis.

The device is already being used by the major Australian and New Zealand dairy companies and co-operatives such as Fonterra, Synlait and Murray Goldburn, as well as a number of global food and beverage brands.  It is also attracting interest across other sectors and throughout the food and beverage manufacturing industry in Europe and Asia such as FrieslandCampina and Heineken.

The Company has also captured the attention of those working in the lucrative aviation inspection market and is poised to make a European partnership announcement soon regarding its successful development of further advanced robot technology.  The company is also looking at potential opportunities in the chemical industry, in addition to further work with energy, oil and gas companies.

Following an almost million dollar crowdfunding campaign through the Sydney-based platform Equitise, a further NZ$6.4 million has now been raised from a limited sophisticated private investor round.  Shareholders now include the former CEO of Macquarie Group Ltd, Allan Moss, and Inception Fiduciary Pty Ltd.

These investments add to the considerable funding received from government and private venture capital sources soon after the company was founded by its now Chief Technical Officer, James Robertson.

Since 2015/2016, Invert Robotics has experienced exponential growth; for the 2018/19 Financial Year, its revenue is expected to further quadruple, with significant contributions from European operations.

“Unlike other inspection methods using dyes, drones and optical or laser devices, INVERT ROBOTICS’s technology provides 360-degree diagnostics and does so in up to half the time of traditional inspections”, said Invert Robotics’ Managing Director Neil Fletcher.

“The accuracy, efficiency and the value-adding environmental and safety benefits of robotic technology makes it an obvious choice as global consumer demand for product safety, brand integrity and transparency grows.”

Given the company’s rapid growth, in addition to its Australasian base in Christchurch, INVERT ROBOTICS have opened an office in the Netherlands and is poised to open premises to operate in Germany and Denmark.

Robotics and food processing at foodpro 2017

This year, foodpro’s educational series will include a seminar by Omron Electronics’ Chris Probst entitled “How Technology Has Advanced Mobile Robots and Improved Food Processing”.

Robots are being increasingly used to improve efficiency and productivity in manufacturing processes. While many people are familiar with fixed mounted robots, there have also been significant advances in mobile robot technology recently.

Mobile robots are able to carry loads between locations, and can do so 24/7 without rests or breaks. As the loads they convey can be hazardous, heavy or in hard-to-reach places, it’s highly desirable to automate this common but mundane and sometimes dangerous task.

AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) have been the most common mobile robot. They have fixed travel paths set out by tapes or other floor mounted markers. While they work well, AGVs are inherently inflexible due to their fixed, predefined path.

However, Autonomous Intelligent Vehicles (AIVs) are a far more flexible transport system. As their name suggests, AIVs are autonomous and are therefore able to chart routes for themselves. They do his by storing a digital floor map they have previously determined. They do not use fixed sensors or markers along their route.

Chris Probst
Chris Probst, Omron Electronics.

Using a standard wifi connection, monitoring systems can plot locations, and when multiple AIVs are used, a central fleet management system can forward plan routes to ensure loads from various locations are transferred as efficiently as possible.

The environment AIVs work in is often highly dynamic, with temporary obstacles commonplace. AIVs carry localisation sensors to detect these obstacles and are then smart enough to dynamically plan an alternative course for themselves to circumvent obstructions.

Another big advantage is that AIVs are made with human collaboration in mind! Their sensors can detect moving objects, and can even playback voice synthesized messages to alert humans. They are a true “co-bot”.

SEMINAR: How Technology Has Advanced Mobile Robots and Improved Food Processing

SPEAKER: Chris Probst, Omron Electronics

TIME: Tuesday 18 July, 1pm

Robotic products at foodpro 2017

 Scott Automation & Robotics

The Automated Robotic Beef Rib Cutting system is a first of its kind, eliminating all key risks to employee Workplace Health & Safety and is capable of operating at line speeds of 520 sides per hour.

Beef Rib Cutting is the first point at which yield can be lost during the boning process and also poses a large risk of personal injuries or amputations to operators.

The Automated Robotic Beef Rib Cutting system uses a combination 3D scanners, x-ray and colour cameras.  The 3-D scanner is used to scan the carcase and assist in cut placement and transforms the vision processing results for the robot to perform the cut. A colour camera is also used to identify a point of interest on the carcase to help determine the correct cut location. Finally a circular saw is mounted to the end of a robot to enable the cuts to be performed on the carcase

Beef rib cutting is a typical case where current manual tasks can be replicated by an automated system. The major benefits of this automation are increased yield and the positive impact on critical industry OH&S issues.

Universal Robots

Universal Robots’ complete range of collaborative robot arms has revolutionised the market for industrial robots. The robot arms are tools that are collaborative and safe, working alongside human workers.  Universal Robots are lightweight, flexible and user-friendly, allowing fast setup and easy programming to solve new tasks, meeting the short-run production challenges faced by companies adjusting to ever more advanced processing in smaller batch sizes. With an average payback period of 12 months, Universal Robots can help to increase companies’ competitiveness by automating processes and raising productivity. The collaborative robots free employees from tedious and monotonous tasks, allowing effective manpower reallocation to other processes where required.


Ultra flexible table-top robot

Universal Robots UR3 is an ultra flexible table-top robot that weighs only 11 kg, but has a payload of 3 kg, 360-degree rotation on all wrist joints and infinite rotation on the end joint. It is the most flexible, lightweight, collaborative table-top robot to work side-by-side with employees in the market where size, safety and costs are critical.


A highly flexible robot arm

A highly flexible robot arm that automates repetitive and dangerous tasks with payloads of up to 5 kg. The UR5 is ideal to optimise low-weight collaborative processes, such as picking, placing and testing. With a working radius of up to 850 mm, the UR5 puts everything within reach.


A collaborative industrial robot

Universal Robots UR10 is the largest industrial robot arm in the family, designed for bigger tasks where precision and reliability are of paramount importance. With UR10, you can automate processes and tasks that weighs up to 10 kg. With a reach radius of up to 1,300 mm, UR10 is designed to be more effective at tasks across a larger area.



Robots at AUSPACK 2017

Global and local robotics and automation experts will present the latest  advances in robotic technology and intelligent automation across processing and packaging at AUSPACK 2017.

Among the exhibitors to look out for include Scott Automation & Robotics (Stand 250), Robotic Automation (Stand 266), Kuka Robotics (Stand 53); Foodmach (Stand 260 ) and ABB (Stand 502).

Collaborative robots (cobots) have captured market attention in Australia recently, and a few will ‘strut their stuff’ at the show.

Cobots will change the face of productivity and manufacturing in Australia.  Able to work alongside humans without the need for safety guarding subject to risk assessment, cobots open vast new applications for robot technology. They are easily integrated into existing production environments, and the tasks they are suited for are wide-ranging.

“Applications for cobots are limited mainly by imagination,” says Mark Emmett, MD of HMPS (exhibiting on Stand 69).

“There is a shortage of labour for repetitive tasks. Robots do an amazing job at doing the same task over and over with complete accuracy. We are finding even smaller producers have a need for automation. We are able to offer from very basic to very complex, customised solutions,” he says.

Working closely with robotic partners ABB (Stand 502), HMPS is now able to offer a new era of robotic co-workers that are able to work collaboratively on the same tasks with humans while still ensuring the safety of those around it. YuMi is the world’s first truly collaborative dual-arm robot and it will be on show at the show.

Building on the YuMi innovation, ABB has recently launched SafeMove 2, a robot supervisory system that enables ABB’s industrial robot range to be safely installed into collaborative applications. ABB’s Peter Bradbury says this eliminates the need to compromise throughput by potentially having to utilise much slower, collaborative robots of lower payload capacity.

Global leader in collaborative robot development, Universal Robots (UR) has tied up a new distributorship deal with AUSPACK exhibitor Foodmach (Stand 260), who will showcasing a number of UR cobots in action.

Foodmach will feature a UR10 cobot performing palletisation, depalletisation and label application duties.

The 10kg payload UR10 will be controlled by Foodmach’s innovative and flexible Robowizard pallet layer programming software. The company will also display a smaller UR3 robot to demonstrate the ease of control and safe operation of UR collaborative robots.

And to round this all off, in an exhibition first for Australia, visitors will be greeted at registration by a robot who will answer typical enquiries about location of exhibitors stands; location of meeting rooms; eating and restroom facilities; shuttle bus pick-up points and times; and educational and networking event timetables.

AUSPACK 2017 will run from 7 – 10 March 2017 at Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park.


Ocado showcases robotic arm for grocery picking [VIDEO]

The Ocado Technology robotics team has created a robotic arm capable of safely grasping a wide variety of products, including many from Ocado’s current range which includes over 48,000 hypermarket items.

The robotic arm comes as a result of the close collaboration between Ocado Technology and the Technische Universität Berlin (TUB), and represents an integral part of the SoMa project – a European Union-funded, Horizon 2020 programme for research and innovation in the field of humanoid robotics.

The SoMa project also includes researchers, academics and scientists from the University of Pisa, the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR, the German aerospace agency), the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, and Disney Research Zürich.

“Ocado and its academic partners are developing some of the most innovative technologies in the field of robotics. With SoMa, we are pursuing a new direction for robotic grasping by developing robot hands that can safely pick easily damageable items such as fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Graham Deacon, robotics research team leader at Ocado Technology.

“The RBO Hand 2 designed by the Technische Universität Berlin offers a versatile, cost-effective and safe solution for robotic grasping and manipulation that integrates very well with Ocado’s highly-automated warehouse retail solutions.”

To avoid damaging sensitive and unpredictably shaped grocery items, the robotic arm uses the principle of environmental constraint exploitation to establish a carefully orchestrated interaction between the hand, the object being grasped, and the environment surrounding the respective item.



Robotics set for greater role in food & beverage Industry: report

The gflobal growth rate of industrial robotics adoption in food & beverage industry is outpacing those in traditional industries like automotive and electronics, a report has found.

According to the report “Industrial Robots for Food & Beverage Industry: Global Market 2016-2022”, robotics will play a vital role in the evolution of the next-generation technologies.

In spite of a small consumer of industrial robots, food & beverage industry has been ordering an increasing number of industrial robots.

The report examines the worldwide market of industrial robotics in food & beverage industry through a comprehensive summary and analysis of premium information sources.

With a review of global market environments and food & beverage industry trend, this report provides an in-depth and detailed analysis of market structure, market trends, market forces, application fields, product types, geographical landscape, and the major industrial players/vendors.

In most analysis, historical statistics together with market outlook cover the 2014-2022 period in terms of unit shipment as well as sales revenue.

Geographically, the global market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and the rest of world (RoW). Specific analysis and forecast over 2014-2022 have been covered for important national markets such as U.S., China, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and Mexico.

Asia-Pacific region dominates the global industrial robots market in food & beverage industry in terms of sales volume as well as annual revenue, followed by European market and North America region. Strongest growth potential also exists in APAC for the future market with China and Southeast Asian countries expected to be the main driving engines for the growth. Current competitive scenario and profiles of major vendors are also included.