How to connect driverless cars with flexible food manufacturing and the intersection between the automotive and food industries are two of the topics OAL Group will address at Gulfood Manufacturing, Dubai, tomorrow (October 27-29).
Interest from the bakery sector for handling/mixing dry materials
“By adopting proven technologies from the automotive sector we can transform food manufacturing,” Norman told BakeryandSnacks.
“Over the last couple of decades automotive has been an avid adopter of robot technologies to enhance manufacturing processes.”
APRIL (Automated Processing Robotic Ingredient Loading) developed in partnership with OAL and the University of Lincoln is a ‘disruptive technology’ that will transform traditional food manufacturing processes.
Taking principles from car manufacturing, it links cooking and materials handling technologies with automated robotic ingredient loading to create ‘food manufacturing cells’ that will emulate professional chefs at a lower cost than traditional manufacturing methods.
The development is a result of two £1m Innovate UK funded government projects into improving the efficiency and quality of food products.
APRIL will integrate and enhance two existing technologies being researched under the Innovate UK collaborative research projects into cryogenic cooling and rapid heating and mixing (Steam Infusion).
“By creating gravity and removing the need for all pipework, pumps and valves, APRIL systems will produce more consistent and better quality products, faster than current processes with significantly reduced ingredient wastage and energy costs, whilst taking up to 80% less factory space,” said Norman.
APRIL will enable significant leaps in utilization levels
“APRIL has been developed in partnership with a leading global robot manufacturer and the University of Lincoln, with a full size demonstration due for installation December 2015 at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing.”
According to Norman, food waste is a major challenge for the food industry and robotic systems can increase product shelf life. Due to the removal of people from the processing area, conditions can be regulated in such a way, that they are unfavorable for pathogen growth.
“Utilization of high value assets and technologies is very poor on traditional one kettle systems, where a high shear mixer used in a sauce operation maybe only used as little as 3% of production time,” he added.
“Taking inspiration from driverless cars, a concept that will lead to utilization of private vehicles of 70% from the current 5%, APRIL will enable significant leaps in utilization levels. By moving processing devices we are able to create a highly flexible system whereby our more expensive pieces of equipment are utilised far more.
“There has been major interest from a number of sectors including bakery for the handling/mixing of dry materials along with soups, sauces and ready meals for the complete processing of raw ingredients to filling.”