Niagara Bottling’s new 600,000-sq.-ft. production and distribution facility in Rialto, Calif., manufactures and distributes 120,000 bottles of water per hour. Supporting this throughput are 56 laser-guided vehicles, integrated with a 33,000-position robotic pallet shuttle storage system. Designed and built by E80 Group, the distribution automation operates 24/7/365.
Large- and medium-sized food companies are struggling to find workers and this trend is not going away. So food manufactures are turning to robot/cobot applications to solve new and old problems on the plant floor, while increasing productivity in the post-covid workforce.
Small- and mid-size food businesses/manufacturers (SMBs) are in dire need of automated solutions for end-of-line packaging, primary packaging or processing. “Graybeards” have a considerable presence in manufacturing, and “10,000 boomers reach retirement age every day and represent 27% of the U.S. manufacturing workforce,” according to 2022 Bureau of Labor, Delottie and PEW Research. Plus, companies are experiencing a skills gap with the existing workforce, while also having challenges attracting younger workers to manufacturing jobs.
ROEQ has entered into a new partnership with OMRON, providing top modules and cart systems for the company’s autonomous mobile robot, the LD-250, doubling the AMR’s payload capacity to 500kg (1,102lbs).
The processing of food at high volumes has traditionally posed many problems for robots and cobots, and has lagged behind other industries. Foods have a variety of shapes and sizes and can be delicate in nature, and these variables can be challenging when a robot tries to grasp an item.