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General principle of robotics


Key words Main movements, communication, sensors, PLC, robotic, processing, processing technology, manipulator, sensor technology, automation, rapid prototype
Latest version 2012/03/03
Completed by UTCN

How does it work?

Primary objective
  • Reduce costs by increasing the productivity
  • Reduce labour requirements and work-related risks of injury
  • Ensure aseptic conditions, reducing potential contamination due to human contact
Working principle Robotics is a branch of science and technology that deals with the design, construction, operation and application of robots.

A robot is an electro-mechanical system operated by electronic programming having the ability to interact with physical objects in order to perform specific tasks and actions. [1-3] A robot is the main component of a flexible production system (FPS), defined as an automatically operating production system that can be reprogrammed and adapted to manufacture different products. Other components of FPS are machine tools, transport machines, control devices, and different auxiliary elements. The robot structure consists basically of the robot body that includes arms and wheels. An energy source (i.e., electricity) is required to make the arms and/or wheels to turn under command. Robots operate according to a basic measurement, requiring different kinds of sensors. Common sensors used in robotics include light sensors, touch sensors (e.g. to detect touch of food products), sound sensors, and acceleration sensor (e.g. to detect shaking). To operate the robot a programmable logic controller (PLC) is necessary. A PLC is special form of micro-processor-based controller that uses a programmable memory to store instructions and to implement functions such as logic, sequencing, timing, counting and arithmetic in order to control machines and processes (Fig.1).
Fig.1 A programmable logic. PLC has the important advantage that the same controller can be used for a wide range of control systems. To modify the control system the operator requires resetting the instructions keys [2-3].

Additional effects
  • Major flexibility in manipulation of variable dimensions products
  • Major hygienic conditions
  • Adaptation to changing product lines and market needs
Important process parameters dynamics, autonomy level, grip adaptability, related sensor types, reprogramming potential
Important product parameters quantity, colour, weight

What can it be used for?

Products There are robots appropriate to manipulate and control all types of products (solid, liquid or gas). Thus, in food industry, there are specific robotic machines for each type of product, from small products such as for example coffee beans up to large pieces of meat [3-5].
Operations Robots can be used in all stages of food production: sterilization, packing, processing, vacuum emulsification, filtration, infusion, etc. and is important for the grasping of products considered difficult to handle.
Solutions for short comings The use of robots is desirable since it provides the way to improve productivity, reduces production costs and ensures aseptic production conditions.

What can it NOT be used for?

Products In the case of food products restrictions are concerned with the ability of the robot to grip and handle the product without damaging it.
Operations There are no restricted operations.
Other limitations
  • Limited gripper adaptability
  • Fixed working position
  • Difficulties in reprogramming; difficulties to adapt to new lines or processes
  • High capital investment
Risks or hazards There are no risks/hazards related to the use of robot. Potential risks are prevented if regulations are respected.


Maturity This technology is mature. The use of robots is in a continuous expansion in a wide area of industrial activities.
Modularity /Implementation It can be difficult to adapt this technology to new lines or processes. It can be inserted in an existing production line or it can replace the whole or a major part of the production line.
Consumer aspects The consumers accept products that have been processed with this technology. Since the use of robotized lines improves the aseptic production condition, consumers are more confident in food processed by such technologies [6-8].
Legal aspects The use of robot technology must fulfil the requirements emerging from standards concerning manufacturing automation and for hygienic machine design. Thus, the use of robots must fulfil EC regulations concerning machines and equipments:

Safety regulations:

  • Machinery Directive 98/37/EC regulations (replaced by 2006/42/EC on 31st December 2009.), ISO 13849-1, ISO 10218-1, EN 60204-1:2006, ANSI/RIA R 15.06 – 1999, UL 1740-1998

Use of Work Equipment:

  • Directive 89/655/EEC (with the standards — BS EN ISO 13849-1, BS EN 62061).

Noise regulations:

  • EMC Directive 89/336/EEC, 92/31/EEC
  • Machines Directive 89/392/EEC

For robots working in food industry additional requirements specific to this industry must be fulfilled:

  • EC 1935/2004 Directives
  • ISO 22000 - Food Safety Management Standards
  • EC General Food Law Regulation 178/2002
  • EU Machinery Directive 98/37/EC (concerning the necessity that machinery suppliers meet certain essential hygiene requirements for the handling of foodstuffs)
  • General hygiene standard EN 1672-2: Food Processing Machinery, Part 2: “Hygiene Requirements” (sets requirements regarding the risks to hygiene arising from the use of machinery and processes)
  • General Principles of Food Hygiene CAC/RCP1-1969
  • CODEX STAN 106-1983, REV.1-2003

Check best practice guideline published by the European Hygienic Engineering & Design Group (EHEDG) for further information.

Environmental aspects The use of robots leads, in general, to positive environmental effects (i.e., water, product losses, and energy savings). The use of robots may be accompanied by noise but this is strictly regulated by the existent standards.

Further Information

Institutes DFKI Robotics Innovation Center, ETH Zurich, WPI Robotics Engineering, DTI Robot Technology
Companies DIL Technologie GmbH, Robotfoodtech, Bosch Packaging Systems, ABAR automation, Kuka Robotics, Stäubli Robotics
References 1. W. Bolton, Programmable Logic Controllers, Elsevier Newnes, 2006.

2. N. Sakamoto, M. Higashimori, T. Tsuji, M. Kaneko, An optimum design of robotic food handling by using Burger model, Intelligent Service Robotics pp.53-60, 2009.

3 Y. F. Li and M. H. Lee, Applying Vision Guidance in Robotic Food Handling, IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 4--12, 1996.

4. M. Kassler, Introduction to the special issue on robots and food-handling, Robotica, 8: 267-268, 1990.

5. S. Davis, J.W. Casson, R.J. Moreno Masey, M. King, J.O. Gray, D. G. Caldwell, Robot prototyping in the design of food processing machinery, Industrial Robot: An International Journal, Vol. 34 Iss: 2, pp.135 – 141, 2007.

6. S. Davis, M.G. King, J.W. Casson, J. O. Gray and Darwin G Caldwell, Automated Handling, Assembly and Packaging of Highly Variable Compliant Food Products- Making a Sandwich’, pp.1213-18ICRA 2007, Rome, Italy, 2007.

7. E. A. Adams, A. M. Messersmith, Robots in food systems: a review and assessment of potential uses, J Am Diet Assoc. 1986 Apr; 86 (4):476-80.

8. N. Wang, N. Zhang, M. Wang, Wireless sensors in agriculture and food industry-Recent development and future perspective, J. Computers & Electronics in Agriculture 50, 1 2006.

dynamics, autonomy level, grip adaptability, related sensor types, reprogramming potential quantity, colour, weight Sensors and Indicators 2.1.1 physical other ICT Scopus, Science Direct, ISI Thomson Search terms: robotic, technology, system, robots suppliers, operation, robot technology WikiSysop :Template:Review document :Template:Review status

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Created by RusVUTCN on 3 March 2012, at 10:27