Robotics group aims to boost industry productivity

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

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A new advisory group aims to help UK food and beverage companies maximise their productivity and profits, through impartial, quality advice on automation, claims CenFRA.

The centre for food robotics and automation, based in Doncaster in Northern England, said it has recently enlisted the help of industry specialists and academic professionals so that the food and drink sector can access the latest information on market and technology trends in automation and robotics.

CenFRA said its new Technical Advisory Group (TAG) is chaired by Mike Wilson, president of the British Automation and Robotics Association (BARA), and that it also includes a cross section of industry professionals, ranging from representatives of the major suppliers to leading academics.

According to the centre, TAG members provide their time free of charge, and will be rotated every two years.

Mike Wilson said that TAG will provide a vital communications link between equipment suppliers and end users.

He said: "Our main role is to make CenFRA aware of developments in automation and robotics both in the UK and overseas. In return, we can take on board issues raised by the food sector and come back with a collective agreement on possible solutions."

CenFRA was established last May following the identification two years ago by the UK Government's Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform of the need for increasing automation in the food and drink manufacturing sector to ensure long term profitability.

"The food and drink processing industry is under real pressure and if UK processors are going to survive on the global marketplace, we will have to restructure our operations. We need to be multi-skilled, leaner and efficient. Robotic and automation solutions can increase capacity and bottom line,"​ claims CenFRA chairman Michael Taylor.

CenFRA offers technology audits (free-of-charge for processors in the North of England) for individual companies; Taylor said the centre can also liaise with researchers to deliver a bespoke robotic solution for a plant within about two months. And the centre said that it can help small and medium sized food processors that are interested in automating sections of their production lines to secure funding towards the cost of implementation.

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