Food Automation – How AI and Robotics are Transforming the Future of the Industry

Sudeep Srivastava September 2, 2022
automation in food industry

Technology isn’t typically the first thing that springs to mind when discussing problems with the food industry.  However, in today’s scenario, automation in the food industry is indispensable to both food production and distribution. 

Automation and robotics in the food industry are used by manufacturers to make and package food. By prolonging shelf life and improving food safety, technology has drastically improved food packaging. Food quality is improving as production costs decline. The reality of AI, robotics, drones, and 3D printing in the food industry is the inspiration for the subject that this article will discuss in detail.

Today’s technology, which was initially designed to pick up hefty metal components, is advanced enough to pick up delicate goods like cheese, bread loaves, and fruits without damaging them. Food manufacturers are now capable of monitoring items and consumer demand, then, using data analysis, matching output to this need. This is made possible by robotics and AI software development.

When companies are better prepared to evaluate critical operations like processing, shipping, and storage, including whether food is accidentally tainted, where that food was sent, and where that food was purchased from, they are more capable of overseeing food quality and safety. Several significant food service companies have recently made considerable investments in robotics and artificial intelligence. 

Let’s examine, in more depth, how robotics and artificial intelligence have significantly changed this industry.

How AI and Robotics are Transforming the Future of the Food Industry Automation Processes

Robotic food delivery and artificial intelligence are currently revolutionizing the food sector.

Although there have always been staffing shortages in the food and beverage sector, they were aggravated by the worldwide epidemic. To combat skill shortages and improve food security, food service firms are turning to automation in the food industry and robotic solutions. Production, assembling, quality assurance, and recordkeeping can all be made more efficient by combining automation and labor. 

Owing to the time and labor savings, people can now concentrate on services and cognitively demanding activities while AI technology takes care of the basic work.

Also Read: AI, AR, and VR: The Three Elements that are Making Food Technical

Top 5 Ways Robotics is Changing the Food Industry

Top 5 Ways Robotics is Changing the Food Industry

The food business is evolving. The need for food is growing as there are now more than 7.5 billion people on the planet. There is pressure on food suppliers to operate more effectively. Additionally, customers desire better-quality, sustainable food that is readily available.

Automation and robotics in the food industry play a significant role in the solution. The food manufacturing industry has been relatively slow to adopt robotics in comparison to other industries. Robotics, however, has begun to penetrate practically every stage of the food supply chain in the past few years, from the farmland to the diner.

Robotics in Agriculture

Farming is the origin of the food industry. Agriculture is the source of milk products, poultry, and grains. Agricultural organizations have started using robots to correctly handle each phase of providing for these food supplies.

Robots with autonomy can explore farming fields to mow grass and keep an eye on the status of the harvests. To feed the animals, other robotic systems can gather eggs or dairy. These machines handle the routine jobs, relieving farmers from handling tasks that call for even greater precision or understanding.

Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), offer an aerial evaluation of the fields. Drones can provide data on which crops are drying and in need of hydration or fertilization because of their high-definition lenses and infrared camera features. Large-scale land management tasks that would normally take labor months are perfect for UAVs.

T&G Global of New Zealand, for instance, employs a robotic harvester that could totally alter the way fruits are harvested. Due to increased harvesting efficiency, farmers now have less work to do.

Robotics in Food Manufacturing

Autonomous food manufacturing may be the key to tackling the rising food demand.   This process entails a variety of stages, such as packing and safety training, that are usually performed in a production facility. Robots can clean and categorize different sorts of food. For example, fruits and vegetables can be suitably sorted in different containers using robotic systems. 

Additionally, some foods can be processed by robots prior to packaging. Since various cutting tools are needed to slice fruits and vegetables, robotics can operate more effectively by matching blades to the chop that is needed. With robotics automation, the cutting devices can be appropriately switched for ease and quick cutting. These robots can also be used independently in the supermarket for both cutting and cooking processes.  Automating the meat processing portion of manufacturing is more challenging.

Tyson Foods has been effectively using robotics in the food industry in manufacturing and packaging processes. The food is segregated, picked, and sorted carefully with the help of robotics making the process smooth while maintaining cleanliness and evenness.

Robotics in Food Packaging

After manufacturing, Robotics in food processing can then assemble the components of a packaged meal, such as frozen meals. Robotic packaging solutions that are quick and effective enable workers to fulfill market forces’ demands. 

Additionally, these robotic systems can organize the food in boxes for eventual storage and shipment. Store operation would be made smoother with robotic operations and the process can be sped for retrieving items and managing store inventories with the help of robots that can move around. But in addition to being effective, the food industry’s packaging procedure offers a rare chance to cut waste by utilizing robots.

Manufacturers can move to packages made of more environment-friendly materials, including biodegradable goods. They’ll be mass producing food more sustainably once they put robots to use with these resources. This being one of the main uses of robotic packaging in the food business appears to be inevitable.

Robotics is being used by Sedano’s Supermarket to make the process of packaging goods for customers more efficient. Sedano’s Supermarket’s new system fills online orders incredibly quickly — 60 items in under five minutes. And Sedano uses this pace to appeal to busy clients who don’t have the time or want to browse the stores on their own.

Robotics in Cookery

Cooking can be accomplished by robots in the food sector. Restaurants are already using robots for preparing and cooking food. Robots are used in many eateries to assemble the complete dish including chopping, roasting the food, and finally garnishing the dish. Small kitchens or large facilities, which are frequently manned by the low-paid workers in the food sector, may currently have the highest demand for robotic cooks.

Robots are already taking over more laborious prep tasks and replacing high-speed staff. These machines might soon start to appear in home kitchens as well.

However, Robotic cooking and delivery are still in their infancy compared to other parts of the global food supply.

A robot named Flippy was used by the US-based burger eatery CaliBurger to flip hamburgers. The Flippy robot resembles a miniature, motorized cart with a 6-axis mechanical arm attached to it. Any conventional grill or fryer can have one put in front of it or next to it. The process of making food is made easier by the use of such robots.

Robotics in Food Delivery

Despite appearing to be “simply the newest craze”, autonomous food delivery attempts to address growing industry trends. A significant increase in demand for restaurant-caliber, home-delivered, processed foods has been observed in recent years. It’s debatable whether autonomous delivery will catch on, but there’s no denying that our passion for ordering food is revolutionizing the food industry.

However, the food delivery sector is still expanding. Across the globe, automated vehicles are already being used. Some are effective in dormitories, while others work effectively on a neighborhood level. For instance, various food automation companies autonomously deliver food through these robotic systems.  

Automation in the food industry has been testing the options of delivering food with the help of drones. There, of course, are some challenges that are being worked upon. However, the adoption of such automation will bring a remarkable impact on the delivery process. 

To deliver goods to customers’ doors, Kroger uses robots. The grocery store chain Kroger is stepping up its strategy to win over Florida consumers, and it is using robots to do so. Robots that assist in retrieving totes of products like bananas, eggs, cheese, and more have successfully automated their procedures to speed up the processing of consumers’ grocery orders.

Also Read: How Much Does it Cost to Build a Food-Delivery App like UberEats or GrubHub?

These five areas of the food business demonstrate how robotics has the potential to create change. Robotics is essential for taking this sector to the next level because of its usefulness, reliability, and client experience. Robots are therefore becoming more and more involved in every phase as we move forward.

automate your food business processes with Appinventiv

How Appinventiv’s AI and Food Automation Services Helped Pizza Hut Increase Conversion Rate by 30% 

Before we proceed to understand what changes are being brought by AI in the food and beverage industry, let us understand how Appinventiv has leveraged this technology to help Pizza Hut scale its business seamlessly with a phenomenal increase in conversion rate by 30%.

By creating a highly engaging application, we digitized the business that increased the screen transition time by seven seconds, thus increasing the downloads by 50K+. The visually appealing app was developed and integrated with unique features to automate food ordering and delivery, thus eliminating delays and improving the user’s journey with an engrossing, easy, and quick app experience. 

Pizza Hut Food Delivery App

Top 5 Ways in which AI is Transforming the Food Industry

Machine learning systems and AI in the food industry can be advantageous in terms of streamlining and optimizing every step of the value chain, reducing spending, and decreasing human inaccuracy. Supply chain optimization will minimize wastage and boost accountability.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used more and more in all business sectors and is being merged with technology all around the world due to its supposedly endless possibilities. The impact of AI in the food industry is tremendous and is increasingly being used nowadays, whether it be for manufacturing, calorie monitoring, or extraction and processing. Let us take a deeper look into the top 5 ways:

Top 5 Ways in which AI is Transforming the Food Industry

AI and Supply Chain Administration

Supply chain management is a significant responsibility for all food businesses due to new rules around food standards and the increasing demands for disclosure. AI is being used in the food business to enhance supply chain operations by:

  • Food standards surveillance
  • Product testing at each level
  • Managing inventories with accurate estimates
  • Tracking of products from harvest to distribution
  • Ensuring that staff adheres to basic hygiene standards

To guarantee that food is safe and the facility is compliant, good personal hygiene is required in food plants just like it is in a kitchen.

By using cameras to monitor employees and facial recognition and object-recognition software to check if they are wearing caps and masks as needed by food safety regulations, AI technology, for instance, can be employed in manufacturing facilities as well as restaurants.

McDonald’s is optimizing its supply chain with the use of AI and data. McDonald’s is bringing supply and demand together with the aid of artificial intelligence and analytics. The fast-food company has developed a novel method of controlling its inventories and promoting important products by linking personalized recommendations to its whole supply chain network.

AI and the Creation of New Products

Only if food manufacturers could foresee how well-received their products would be before they hit the market, would enable them to simply dominate the industry.

AI promises to assist food firms in doing just that. It can apply algorithms to identify trends in the food sector and predict their growth. The technology predicts consumer tastes, and patterns and forecasts how consumers will react to new foods using machine learning and artificial intelligence analytics. To assist businesses in creating new items that suit the interests of their target market, the data can be split into geographical categories.

AI has sped up the process of developing new products by leveraging predictive analytics and consumer data. This has aided businesses in following trends both now and in the future, which has decreased the rejection rate of new products.

One such manufacturer of beverages that have incorporated AI technology into the creation of new products is Coca-Cola. They conducted an analysis using AI and discovered that most customers combined cherry-flavored drinks with sprite. Cherry Sprite, a new product from Coca-Cola, was developed with the use of these statistics.

AI and Food Sorting Options

Food sorting is the initial step in the supply chain, and an AI can do this seamlessly instead of dozens of employees sorting products in a line, manually with mistakes. In addition to being able to categorize things by size, weight, and color, machine learning, and artificial intelligence do not pose the risk of errors.

Any facility that accepts fresh produce must also spend time sorting the food. Sorting out vegetables with imperfections, for instance, helps reduce consumer refusal. It may be possible to tackle the problem by using sensor-based visual filtering technology with automation in the food industry to organize food according to the consumer standpoint, this system utilizes many sensing devices. 

AI in the food industry ensures that the food being processed will reach specific criteria when quality standards are input, creating a far more efficient production process. As a result, less time is spent manually sorting. In addition, there is higher production, better quality, and less waste.

By using sensor-based sorting technology, two of the leading potato product firms-SnowValley Agricultural Group and Aviko Group, sort and process their frozen fries with the help of AI-based food sorting equipment.

Food delivery app development for Dominos by Appinventiv

AI and Food Delivery

As the quality of food must be preserved while in transit, the food delivery sector plays a crucial role in the logistics system. To increase income, restaurants are using AI as an operating system to digitize all of their business activities, from orders to delivery to stock management. 

Additionally, it permits businesses to incorporate food delivery services and offer easy mobile application ordering to customers.

Additionally, voice bots with AI tools, which are essentially automated conversational AI assistants, streamline the ordering of food by using only voice search. These bots can converse in human language. These voice-activated technology solutions can increase productivity while reducing human mistakes. Numerous platforms and applications for food have incorporated this concept.

Swiggy is one such AI-powered meal delivery business. Swiggy employs artificial intelligence to adapt its user interface to the particular needs or preferences of each user. Additionally, Swiggy offers its users with automated assistants and chatbots to assist users.

AI and Quality Food Production

What if artificial intelligence (AI) could assist farmers in growing better food by setting the ideal growing surrounding?

By establishing optimal growth conditions, AI is currently assisting farmers in producing higher-quality crops. A lot of businesses are using AI to track how factors like UV rays, salinity, humidity, and soil moisture affect crops. With the help of this information, specialists may create a formula for the ideal crops. Although it may take some time to transition from the laboratory to the outdoors, this one is quite helpful.

AI is also used in agriculture to identify insects and diseases in crops and boost the quality of the soil, alongside automation in food processing.

AI is used in Bowery’s indoor vertical farms to enhance crop yield. Each Bowery farm’s centralized system, the BoweryOS, provides crops with individualized care at scale. Through extensive use of sensing devices, it gathers thousands of data points, which are then fed into custom artificial intelligence algorithms and instantly interpreted by the BoweryOS.

How can Appinventiv Help Unlock Opportunities with Intelligent AI-driven Solutions?

A tremendous transition is currently taking place in the food industry automation and manufacturing industry. Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning technologies have all contributed to the food industry’s explosive rise.

Our software development professionals are aware that with AI and ML, everything bounces back to data. We, being an AI software development company, create cutting-edge solutions that assist in identifying important data from the vast volumes of structured and unstructured data that your company generates in a variety of formats. 

We assist you in data analysis so you can identify trends of growth and decrease. With artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions that are innovation-driven, Appinventiv can help you automate and advance your business.

For instance, KFC partnered with us to create a food delivery app that enabled users to track the real-time status of their order delivery, which expanded its digital presence in the global arena. With 2 million downloads and a 28% conversion rate, the app was ranked number one on Play Store.

KFC Food Delivery App by Appinventiv

Our experts are eager to take up your automation idea to fruition by partnering with you. Share your idea with our experts now!

FAQs

Q. What is robotics in the food industry?

A. Robotics is defined as “the technology that deals with the development, manufacturing, and use of robots in automation.” In the food sector, primary packaging, or the step of the production line where food is packed into its wrapper, container, or vacuum-sealed bag, uses robotics.

Q. How has AI transformed the food industry?

A. For many sectors, artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies have numerous opportunities for process automation, process improvement, cost reduction, and human error reduction. There are vast benefits of automation in the food industry.

Eateries, restaurants, and diners as well as food processing, have greatly benefitted from AI and ML, which have sped up the supply chain process and improved food delivery services, among other things.

Q. What role do robots play in cooking?

A. More and more industrial robots are being used to improve hygienic standards, save time, and free up space. Robots are widely utilized in the kitchen for everything from chopping and slicing to the dish’s final presentation.  It is also often employed in filtering, selecting, and arranging things into boxes, labeling, and distributing food.

Q. How are robots employed in the production of food?

A. Currently, packaging and stacking are the two uses for food-handling robotics that are most prevalent. In primary packaging, where food is placed into its packaging, cartons, or vacuum-sealed pouches, food robots are employed. Using robots for secondary packing is another popular technique.

THE AUTHOR
Sudeep Srivastava
Co-Founder and Director
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