Posted by Philip Ansell - 07 August, 2019
As the cost of robots decreases and labor costs get higher, the adoption of robotics is gathering speed. Moving beyond automated machinery, robotics can take production to the next level – and change the working environment as they do so. So how will robotics affect the flooring solutions of the future...?
Robots are simply more reliable than people, they don’t sneeze, they don’t cough, they don’t eat, they don’t fall ill or need holidays (but they do need downtime for maintenance). Recruiting and retaining staff in the food industry is an increasing problem recognised by many food industry managers. Although the tasks are often simple and repetitive, any temporary staff have to be inducted into the food safety culture, which can be time-consuming and costly. Robots offer a solution and are already doing many ‘picking and packing’ tasks on the production line with automated vehicles, not just in the warehouse and chillstores but moving racks and bins of product through production.
Programmable robots that can carry out actions completely independently, or with minimal interference, offer a flexible alternative to humans in many situations. The built environment must accommodate easy movement of such robotics: this means considering everything from aisle and corridor width, which must provide enough room to allow U-turns, to avoiding steps and providing charging points. Their requirements for floors are also different: they are much less likely to slip than a human, but they do need traction to move. Many automated vehicles require antistatic floors, and they may also need flatter floors. So how does this look in practice?
The future is now
In one food procession facility, full automation is already a reality, thanks in part to innovative surface technology. There are no human workers at all in a new Russian sausage factory opened in 2018 in Kashira, near Moscow, and the benefits of this set-up go beyond cost-efficiencies.
What are the advantages of automation in food processing?
With all the work being done by robots, thanks to the complete automation of production processes, hygiene is more easily secured. The plant’s smart machines operate in premises reliably protected against the entry of microorganisms from outside and the robots move on Ucrete floors offering proven hygienic properties, durability and resistance to abrasion.
Are there any people involved at all?
The sausage factory produces 30,000 tons of product per year. In spite of the size of the plant, only 170 people are involved in running this huge factory – mainly engineers and IT specialists who supervise the operation of smart machines. No human labor is needed in the food processing cycle. Achieving 100% automation and using innovative materials guarantee the highest level of hygiene and production quality.
Different types of Ucrete
Five different types of Ucrete flooring were used to cover 14,500 square meters of floors at the Kashira sausage factory – all providing surfaces with high resistance to aggressive substances, different mechanical stresses and high temperatures.
Matt-finished, skid-resistant, seamless and antistatic, each flooring system not only met the most stringent hygiene requirements, but was entirely suitable for robotic traffic.
The robots are coming, and Ucrete is ready for them – providing them with long-lasting floors on which they can work, improving productivity, quality, hygiene and profitability in the food industry.