Speaking to FoodProductionDaily.com at the Cologne event Ryan Guthrie, the technical and application support engineer for TM Robotics, said that the food processing sector was a completely new arena for the company.
TM Robotics is responsible for the sales, marketing and support of Toshiba Machine's Industrial Robots throughout Europe; its robotic systems include applications for assembly, material handling, pick and place, sealing, palletising and positioning requirements.
Guthrie said the decision to focus on the food sector was prompted by the fact that its chain of distributors were reporting an increased demand from food manufacturers for integrated systems involving robots to help them improve their production throughput rates and cut costs.
Toshiba Machines, he claims, has a new generation of products in the pipeline that are specifically targeting the food industry and are able to compete with conventional flex picker robots in terms of cost.
Ryan Guthrie discusses the Scara range of Toshiba robotics targeted at the food industry. Click here.
According to Guthrie, customers are requesting robots with excellent orientation and reach capabilities, and these factors are influencing Toshiba Machine’s developments for the food processing sector going forward.
And he claims that investment in systems such as its new TV800, a six-axis robot model with an 800 milimetre reach, can enable processors to relocate their line packaging workforce to less monotonous roles within a plant.
Ryan Guthrie outlines the advantages of the company’s new six-axis robot. Click here.
Meanwhile Michael Taylor, chair of CenFRA, a UK not-for-profit collaboration between regional development agencies, food industry professionals and experts in robotics and automation, recently told this publication that it is difficult for UK food companies to compete with their wider European counterparts due to their lack of system automation.
Overcoming existing reservations in the UK food and beverage sector and advising these companies of the enormous potential for automation in production is CenFRA's aim, he said.
“Not all automation has to be expensive,” continued Taylor. “And the cost of robotics has come down in recent years through their extensive take-up in the automotive industry; with that sector experiencing a major downturn, robotic manufacturers are now targeting the food industry.”