A Closer Look Into Food Material Handling System Automation


Automated technology, from the first assembly line to the sophisticated robotics used today, is made to speed up operations. Efficiency may be defined as increasing process speed, minimizing unexpected downtime, or optimizing equipment uptime. 

Bulk material handling automation can be used for a wide range of manufacturing steps and commodities. Here are some examples of how automation might increase the effectiveness of food material handling. Let’s explore!

  1. Automatic Routing

Upstream and downstream procedures are facilitated by automatic routing. The finished item will go into the appropriate finishing bin thanks to automatic downstream routing. By eliminating human mistakes and delays, automating this process step can increase the system’s overall efficiency. 

If the operator is found dealing with some other task and couldn’t route the food automated material handling system properly, then the bin will fill, and the process will halt. As soon as the preceding bin is full, automatic downstream routing will transport the material to the subsequent one, ensuring smooth progress.

Similar principles apply to automatic upstream routing; only raw materials are used instead of finished goods. As they are transported and distributed, raw materials are moved into the appropriate container by automated upstream routing. 

Both of these automated methods increase the effectiveness of handling bulk materials during processing, and they also significantly improve record-keeping and track-and-trace accuracy and efficiency.

  1. Warehouse Tracking

First-in-first-out utilization is crucial when accepting commodities into a warehouse to avoid spoiling. However, as fresh shipments are frequently stacked or heaped on top of the old, this can be difficult to manage. The location of the earliest materials on the selection list can be determined by a food automated material handling system, which will aid in process improvement. Employees can quickly determine which bag, box, or bin should be utilized next when your routing, tracking, and control systems interact.

  1. Machine Monitoring

Automation can increase uptime and decrease unplanned downtime, both of which can increase the efficiency of handling bulk materials. Preventive maintenance and machine monitoring are two ways to do this. This helps to prevent unsafe situations that could endanger both facilities and workers and sudden shutdowns brought on by mechanical failure.

Sensors can track the operation of a mixer, grinder, conveyor, or other device and notify operators of any issues. Amp draw, vibration, and temperature are the most popular methods for doing this. 

If the material in the process changes, gets moist and adheres to the machine, the scale is off and dispenses too much material, the motor needs repair, or there may be another reason; this could indicate that the load is too heavy or the material is too thick. The sensor won’t be able to identify the issue, but it will indicate that there is one before the motor overheats and stops working altogether.

Monitoring vibration or a machine’s bearing temperature can also help to avoid shutdown situations. For instance, if a grinder, conveyor, or other machine is vibrating excessively, this may suggest an imbalanced load, the presence of a foreign object in the mixture, or the need for maintenance on another component of the machine. An operator will be automatically informed if a sensor detects this problem.

Even more critical problems can be found by sensors checking the temperature of the bearings. Bearings can overheat due to excessive friction if they are not adequately greased, broken, influenced by a foreign object, or experienced other problems.

This can turn into an ignition device for a fire or an explosion while handling bulk materials, especially when handling fine powders. Sensors that monitor temperature will catch this issue before it gets dangerous.

  1. Coordinating Run Time

The capacity to synchronize processes and machines is one of automation in bulk material handling’s main benefits. You can synchronize the controls and automate each procedure to run concurrently. This could involve a variety of tasks, including filling, grinding, dispensing, weighing, and mixing. Your facilities will be optimized for optimal effectiveness.

Cycle times, filling times, weighing times, and other factors should all be taken into account while coordinating each procedure. This frequently takes into account, not just the length of the process itself but also the time needed for the materials to fill, settle, and discharge. 

For instance, if it takes 30 seconds to fill, measure, and discharge each ingredient in a mix of 10 ingredients, it will take 300 seconds to weigh the material on the scale as a whole, which means the mixer may need to wait for the weighing procedure to finish. It will be idle for half the mixing time, which is only 150 seconds.

You could utilize two scales, one with five ingredients each, to handle this issue as quickly and effectively as possible. These operations will operate in tandem, thanks to automated machinery and controls, starting and stopping precisely at the proper time.

Efficiency improvements for handling bulk materials with automation are numerous. Think carefully about your operations and pay particular attention to any idle equipment, inaccuracies, or shutdown situations. Automation advancements will probably have the greatest impact here.

Wrapping Up

Those food processors who didn’t previously use automation now prioritize it in their growth strategies. The pandemic and labor scarcity have increased the need to deploy automation. Processors must look for ways to accomplish more with fewer personnel. Investors in automation have generally enjoyed a good return on their investment. However, due to the high up-front cost, several producers who lack automation experience are reluctant to proceed.

In other situations, such as when there are gains in quality, operator safety, or food safety, it may be challenging to measure the ROI that automation brings. But most of the time, there are several levels of automation available that can assist a project at any budget level. 

For each particular application, the most expensive and complex solution is not always the best option, nor will it yield the biggest return on investment. Due to the high initial costs and restricted flexibility, automation in the food industry was traditionally mainly used by larger enterprises. Over the past few years, those expenses have decreased while the cost of labor has increased, making the ROI more alluring. 

In addition, many business owners are more open to solutions with a longer ROI than they might have been in previous years since they are having such a hard time finding and keeping employees in the present market.

If you are in search of an effective and top-notch food automated material handling system and the best food material handling equipment, it is time to turn to Vega India and upscale your brand. 

Visit their website and discover exciting details today.