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Cybernetik Technologies partners with Singapore-based Enabling.Win for a Webinar on Robotic Solutions for the Food Industry.

Bionic Grippers In Food Industry_01

Oct-21: Cybernetik Technologies Pvt. Ltd. is an Indian industrial automation company that provides industrial automation to manufacturing companies in food, pharma, chemical and automobile industries.

Cybernetik is going to conduct a webinar on robotic solutions for food industry with a Singapore-based company - Enabling.Win on 29th Oct 2021. This webinar will be hosted by Cybernetik's Business Head (Robotic Automation), Srivatsa Mahesh, at 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm IST in India.

As Business Head (Robotic Automation) at Cybernetik, Srivatsa Mahesh looks after business and technology development for robotic applications in the food, automobile and manufacturing industries. With over 12 years of experience, he is passionate about technical design, automation, AI & digitisation.

The webinar session will last for an hour and will cover the following topics:

  • Types of robots
  • Applications in food industry
  • Design considerations
  • Advantages and limitations of robotic systems

Register now at https://bit.ly/3Celi3P

Cybernetik_Food Webinar_Post 3

Cybernetik’s robotic solutions deliver the two primary benefits of automation viz. quality and speed. Designed to comply with various international standards, our pick and place robots, palletizers, case packers, and stretch wrappers sizably improve throughput, efficiency, and safety of food packaging operations. 


About the Author:

Cybernetik Technologies Pvt. Ltd is an Indian industrial automation company that blends experience with innovation to design, build, and install end-to-end, customised automation solutions for food, pharmaceutical, chemical, and manufacturing industries across the world.

Address - Gat No. 365, Urawade, Mutha Road, Opposite Indo-German Technology Park

City – Pune

State – Maharashtra

Country – India

Zip code/ PIN code – 412108

Phone Number – 020 6790 9600

Toll Free Number, if any – n/a

Fax Number, if any – n/a

Company Email ID – [email protected]

Website: http://www.cybernetik.com/

Cybernetik Technologies has setup an office in the United States after 10 years of successful Automation and Extraction project deployment for U.S. based customers.

Cybernetik

Two of our directors began their professional journeys in the United States. That was thirty years ago. Just recently, Cybernetik Technologies established its office in the U.S. – a moment of pride for all our team! This is of course the culmination of a decade of successful Automation and Extraction projects we have deployed in the U.S.  

With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing home the criticality of hygiene and touch-free operations, Material Handling and Packaging have acquired a never-known-before importance.

All our solutions require minimal human intervention. And our focus on customized automation positions us perfectly to deliver top class, optimally priced Robotic Solutions and Purpose-built Powder Handling Mechanisms.

Cybernetik-Daniel Britton

Daniel Britton is leading our American operations. A seasoned Sales Manager with two decades experience in global companies, Dan shares our passion for delivering complete solutions and expertise in bulk material handling and process system design via long-term network building, internal sales team training, and management of globally distributed sales personnel.  

Here’s to our latest foray in the land of opportunity!


About the Author:

Cybernetik Technologies Pvt. Ltd is an Indian industrial automation company that blends experience with innovation to design, build, and install end-to-end, customised automation solutions for food, pharmaceutical, chemical, and manufacturing industries across the world.

Address - Gat No. 365, Urawade, Mutha Road, Opposite Indo-German Technology Park

City – Pune

State – Maharashtra

Country – India

Zip code/ PIN code – 412108

Phone Number – 020 6790 9600

Toll Free Number, if any – n/a

Fax Number, if any – n/a

Company Email ID – [email protected]

Website: http://www.cybernetik.com/

Chocolate Making: A Delicious Business

Chocolate is among the most popular non-essential food items globally [1]. An essential ingredient of several delicacies such as candy bars, milk shakes, cookies, and cereals [2], it makes a particularly important component for puddings, cakes, brownies, and other desserts [3].

Before it gets to the dining table, the chocolate has literally travelled around the world. The journey of chocolate begins on the evergreen cocoa trees located in the equatorial and tropical regions of South America, Mexico, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

After manually harvesting cocoa beans, workers ferment and dry them. Fermentation turns them brown and drying reduces their weight to half [2]. Next, cocoa beans are shipped to manufacturing facilities where they are roasted, winnowed, ground, and blended to form the chocolate we are familiar with [3].

From Roasting to Wrapping

Manufacturers first clean the beans to remove unwanted material. Next, they roast and winnow the beans to obtain the edible part called “nib,” which is the edible part of the bean.

Thereafter, they melt the nib, and add sugar and flavor to it. The liquid chocolate so produced is either stored or molded into the required solid form [2].

Let us examine each stage of the manufacturing process in detail:

  1. Roasting: is the important first step and plays several important roles:
    • Brings out the taste and flavor because it is the roasted cocoa beans that taste like chocolate, not the raw ones [4]. Typical cocoa bean color and aroma develop around 130-1500C [5].
    • Sterilizes the bean, eliminating any bacteria, molds, and fungi that are widespread in the tropical equatorial regions – the home of cocoa beans [4].
    • Simplifies cracking and winnowing by disconnecting the inner bean from the outer husk [4]. Roasting makes the outer cocoa shells brittle, making it easy to separate them [2]. Breaking down the inner cocoa bean gives tiny cocoa nibs [2].
    • Reduces moisture content from around 7% to about 1% [1]. This is important because chocolate and water do not mix. Lowering moisture simplifies grinding [6].
      For effective roasting, three conditions are essential viz. transfer of heat to the bean, smooth airflow in the roasting drum, and cooling [7].
  2. Winnowing: involves delinking the husk (outer shell) from the nib (edible part) of cocoa beans. The process directly impacts the final quality of the chocolate as better separation delivers top quality [8]. Any residual husk will introduce unwanted tastes [9]. Winnowing takes off 20-25% of the roasted beans’ weight [9].
    Equipment for winnowing cracks open the outer husks, which are then segregated from the nib by multiple stages of sieves (filters). Air blowing fans complete the separation as husks are lighter than nibs [10].
    Roasted beans are cracked open by passing them through serrated cones [11] or screw motion [10]. Vibration mechanisms may also be employed in addition to filters and fans for superior separation [10].
  3. Grinding: passes nibs through rotating metal drums to convert them into liquid called chocolate liquor [1]. Nibs contain 50-55% cocoa butter [12], which is a crucial ingredient for making chocolate.
    Depending on the requirements, manufacturers utilize three or even more grinding stages [12]. The roller speed rises in every successive stage [12]. Eventually, the size of chocolate liquor particles is crushed to 0.0254mm [1].
    From the middle of the grinding stage, the process handles liquid chocolate and this continues till step 8 i.e. molding stage.
  4. Separation: involves the use of hydraulic press [11] or rollers [1] to hike the pressure on chocolate liquor. This makes most of the cocoa butter inside the chocolate liquor flow out as a yellow liquid. The residue is the press cake and is processed into cocoa powder [1].
  5. Blending: manufacturers add cocoa butter to the press cake [1]. The quantity of added cocoa butter influences the consistency and texture, and, therefore, determines the type of chocolate produced [1].
  6. Conching: is the most critical stage in chocolate production [1]. Operating somewhat similar to eggbeater, the machine paddles move to and fro through the chocolate mass slowly to mix it thoroughly and aerate it [11]. Such action further reduces the chocolate particles’ size and removes any minor, residual bitterness.
    Process speed and temperature influence the quality of chocolate [1]. Other determinants of quality are the speed at which other ingredients (sugar, milk powder or milk, cocoa butter, flavors etc.) are mixed and when they are added [1].
  7. Tempering: is the slow cooling of the conched chocolate. Such machines can have heating and cooling mechanisms as well as mixers to maintain the molten chocolate’s homogeneity [13].
    Steady temperature drop in tempering imparts stability to the chocolate [14] i.e. prevents the ingredients from separating on solidification – when poured in molds for example [11].  It also maintains the chocolate’s crisp texture and luster [11]. It is the tempering stage that prevents chocolate from melting when people touch it [14].
  8. Molding: is the pouring of liquid chocolate into molds designed to provide the specifically shaped chocolate. Types of chocolates are pure chocolates, wafer or cookie including chocolates, raisin or dry fruit containing chocolates, or those with a core containing different materials such as jelly [15].
    Totally automatic, semi automatic, and manual are the three types of mold machines based on the level of automation [15].
    Stage 8 i.e. molding starts with liquid chocolate and ends with a solid one. Hereafter, all stages deal with solid chocolate.
  9. Wrapping: protects the chocolate from contamination while also lending it a catchy appearance and enabling the makers to brand their produce. After loading the wrapper material and chocolate (of the required size and shape) in the wrapper machine, the machine wraps the chocolate, cuts the wrapper, and seals it. Thereafter, the wrapped chocolates are packaged into cartons [16].
    Types of wrapper machines are Bar Wrapper, Coin Wrapper, Foil Wrapper, and Fold Wrapper. Different ways a chocolate is wrapped are Banding, Fold Wrapping, Foil Wrapping, Pleat Wrapping, Sleeve Wrapping, Twist Wrapping, and Foil and Band Wrapping [16].
    Chocolates can be wrapped as much as five times viz. primary, double primary, secondary, tertiary, and final wrappings [16].
    Molding machine is an auxiliary to the wrapping machine [15]. Equipment that serve as auxiliaries to both machines are [16]:
    • Tempering Machine
    • Chocolate Pump
    • Nut Feeder
    • Chocolate Enrober
    • Biscuit Feeder
    • Automatic Demolder
    • Feeder Mixer
    • Auto Chocolate Depositor
    • Chocolate Analyzer
    • Granule Doser
    • Granule Mixer
    • Weighing-Filling Mechanism

Finally

A process as long and complex as chocolate making demands diligent focus from the involved people and machines. Automation is a great way to make the process precise and fast.

Cybernetik Technologies has delivered customized automation and equipment solutions for the chocolate industry that enable close monitoring and control over each stage to make exceptional quality chocolate.

Contact us at +91 20 6790 9600 or [email protected] to feel the joy of made-to-order solutions.


References

  1. Chocolate, Advameg.
  2. The production of chocolate, Simon Fraser University.
  3. Chocolate, Wikipedia.
  4. Cocoa Bean Roasting, Chocolate Alchemy.
  5. Cultivation, Preparation & Roasting the Cocoa beans, Ritter Sport.
  6. An Introduction To Cocoa Roasting, XTC Chocolate.
  7. Cocoa Roasting Machine, Coffee Direct Pro.
  8. Cocoa Bean Winnowing, Oklahoma State University.
  9. Making Exceptional Chocolate: Winnowing Cocoa Beans, Wild Mountain Chocolate.
  10. Winnowing, Nemisto.
  11. How To Make Chocolate: From Cacao Bean to Chocolate, The Gourmet Chocolate of the Month Club.
  12. The Nib-grinding Process, The Manufacturing Confectioner.
  13. Tempering, ProBake.
  14. Tempering Chocolate, Ghirardelli.
  15. Chocolate Moulding Machine, SaintyCo.
  16. Chocolate Wrapping Machine, SaintyTech.

Safety: A Paramount Necessity

Robots are not a new entrant in the food industry. They have handled palletizing and packaging jobs with speed and efficiency. It is only with the recent advances in gripper and vision technology that they are foraying into secondary food processing.

Managing sturdy or even the not-so-delicate parts is not a big task for robots. What is challenging is dealing with handle-with-care parts [1]. Take fragile foodstuffs such as raw eggs, soft chocolates, or strawberries for example. Or odd shaped apples and pears.

Quality and Speed are the two pivotal benefits of automation [2]. Employing conventional robots will damage these foodstuffs, and negate the quality advantage. In their mission to get over this barrier, robotic engineers turned to nature and came up with a simple yet excellent solution – the bionic gripper.

Nature has always triggered engineering developments. Bionics or engineering modelled on biology or living creatures [3] goes back centuries [4]. Jack Steele conceived the term bionics back in 1958 to describe engineering based on biology [5].

Japan’s Shinkansen trains for example employ the design of the Kingfisher’s beak to avoid sonic boom. Whale fin contours are the basis for the quieter, more efficient wind turbines with serrated edges [6]. And, there was the Gator Sharkote project that studied shark shin to develop an anti-fouling coating [7].

Robots & Grippers

Robots utilize two types of end effectors viz. grippers and tools. Connected at the robot wrist, they are usually custom built for specific operations. End-of-Arm Tooling (EOAT) is among the principal robot parts because it comes in touch with the part [8].

Grippers are generally involved with loading-unloading operations. One area where robots have an edge over manual labour is that they cause minimal damage to the handled part – the quality advantage of automation. But this advantage materializes only with the proper design and fabrication of gripper [8].

Robots utilize four main types of grippers [8]:

  • Vacuum Grippers are flexible, making them a standard EOAT. Polyurethane or rubber suction cups or closed cell layer of foam rubber acts as the pickup mechanism.
  • Hydraulic Grippers deliver up to 2000 psi gripping force, but are prone to oil leakages and maintenance issues.
  • Pneumatic Grippers are small sized and lightweight.
  • Servo-Electric Grippers use electronic motors for better control over gripper jaws. Plus, they are cost effective and can operate with varied material tolerances when working with parts.

Bionic Grippers

Tertiary Food Processing delivers Ready to Eat (RTE) foods and Heat to Serve foods [1]. RTE foods include instant snacks and soups, ready meals, baked goods, instant/breakfast cereals, meat products and the like [2]. Young people in the 18-35 age-group are the most active consumers of RTE foods [2].

Safety is at the core of all processes for manufacturing RTE foods. This is because they are not processed any further [3] – their hygiene has to be ingrained in their processing. Regulatory bodies prescribe strict standards for operators across the food supply chain.

For example, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) mandates a documented Food Safety Management System (FSMS) plan for every operator. FSMS plan includes Good Manufacturing Practices and Good Hygienic Practices specific to the sector [4].

Apart from safety, these standards ensure nutritional value of foods. Such standards establish what foods can and cannot contain as well as what are the minimum and/or maximum limits of ingredients they can contain. This, they do by:

  • Restricting the amount and type of natural and synthetic contaminants including microbes, pesticide/insecticide residues, and metal, antibiotic, and crop contaminants [4].
  • Laying down guidelines for which food additives can be included and in what quantity [4].
  • Instituting norms for packaging, labeling, and advertisement claims [4].
  • Capping the industrial trans-fat content in foods for them to qualify as trans-fat-free [5].

RTE Manufacturing Process

Safety is of course the core principle for RTE foods manufacturing. The process must also be rapid, energy efficient, and ergonomic while developing the required food flavor and texture.

Following are the general stages in manufacturing RTE foods:

  • Unloading & Transport: Unloaded raw materials are transported to the location of the cleaning equipment.
  • Cleaning: Removes dirt, dust, mud, stones, wood pieces and other such contaminants from the main raw materials. The cleaning stage may also include mechanisms for drying the raw materials wetted by the cleaning solution. Quality control check will affirm the efficacy of the cleaning process.
  • Transit: Cleaned raw materials are loaded into cooking kettles. Cybernetik Technologies’ Buggy Lifters have:
    • 350 liter Eurobins to hold raw materials.
    • Brake motor driven belt and pulley mechanism to lift the loaded Eurobin to the required height.
    • Tipping system to tilt the bin to the necessary angle for unloading raw material into the cooking kettle. Workers don’t have to lift and tilt the bin, something which eliminates the risk of injury. Safety features include photoelectric sensors, emergency stops, and alarm interlocks.
  • Pressure Cooking: Industrial cooking kettles are fundamental equipment in the food industry. These can cook, mix, stew, pasteurize, sterilize, or lower the moisture content in raw materials or partially processed foods.

High pressure cooking improves the shelf life and safety of foods, maintains their nutritional value, and saves energy costs [6] while lending them better odor and taste, maintaining their attractive appearance, and minimizing cooking times [7].

Industrial pressure cooking involves multiple steps. Different raw materials are added at various stages after the cooked material is drained, rinsed, simmered etc. Quality control checks at the end of certain steps are instituted.

  • Features of Cybernetik Technologies’ Cooking/Steam Kettles:
    • Automated for stop-start and the feeding-discharge of products.
    • Precise temperature control.
    • Uniform heating from all sides.
    • High-strength limpet/dimple jacket design allows use of thinner vessel shells.
    • Level indicators for accurate material feeding.
    • Load cell weighing option for batch-to-batch consistency.
    • Scraped surface agitator mixes materials to a homogeneous stage and prevents “burn-on” by not allowing material to stick to kettle wall.
    • Brisk meter checks process completion.
    • Safety devices and mechanisms include pressure-temperature sensor, pressure relief valves, safety interlocks, emergency stops, and indicator lamps.
    • Condensate recovery system for water reuse.
    • Clean in Place (CIP) provision for easy cleaning-maintenance.
  • Mixing: Double/twin shaft paddle mixers are the favorite mixers of the food industry for over three decades for bulk solid mixing. Cybernetik Technologies’ Twin/Double Shaft Paddle Mixers:
    • Are automated.
    • Mix products gently to rapidly produce a homogeneous mix.
    • Are suitable for wet mixing.
    • Come with safety features such as emergency stop and alarm interlocks.
    • Have CIP facility for easy cleaning-maintenance.
  • Buffering: After pressure cooking, the mixture is buffered and checked for shelf life. Cybernetik Technologies’ Buffer Tank has:
    • Dimple jacket design for high strength.
    • Ribbon blades for slow mixing.
    • Speed sensor to monitor mixing speed.
    • PID control for automatic temperature regulation.
    • Safety mechanisms such as emergency stop and alarm interlocks.
    • CIP system for easy cleaning-maintenance.
  • Holding: Maintaining or holding the temperature of cooked raw materials the required temperature for a specified duration prevents the growth of harmful disease causing microbes [8]. Holding process can be hot holding or cold holding.

Finally

Technological innovation empowers engineers to deliver on all the requirements of the RTE manufacturing process – safety, speed, efficiency, operator comfort, and quality.

Cybernetik Technologies has been delivering high-quality, purpose-built equipment and automation solutions to the Ready-to-Eat (RTE) food industry for decades. Contact us at +91 20 6790 9600 or [email protected] to get a first hand feel of the excellence of our experience.

References

  1. Food Processing, Wikipedia.
  2. Ready-to-Eat Food Market Report, Mordor Intelligence.
  3. Safety of Ready-to-Eat Foods, ResearchGate.
  4. Ministry of Food Processing Industries India Reports.
  5. Food safety agency FSSAI launches ‘Trans Fat Free’ logo, Hindustan Times.
  6. High Pressure Equipment Designs for Food Processing Applications, Food Engineering Series.
  7. Industrial Pressure Kettle VKP, FoodTechProcess.
  8. Food Storage, Preparation and Safety: In-depth, Croner-i.

Natural by Design

Robots are not a new entrant in the food industry. They have handled palletizing and packaging jobs with speed and efficiency. It is only with the recent advances in gripper and vision technology that they are foraying into secondary food processing.

Managing sturdy or even the not-so-delicate parts is not a big task for robots. What is challenging is dealing with handle-with-care parts [1]. Take fragile foodstuffs such as raw eggs, soft chocolates, or strawberries for example. Or odd shaped apples and pears.

Quality and Speed are the two pivotal benefits of automation [2]. Employing conventional robots will damage these foodstuffs, and negate the quality advantage. In their mission to get over this barrier, robotic engineers turned to nature and came up with a simple yet excellent solution – the bionic gripper.

Nature has always triggered engineering developments. Bionics or engineering modelled on biology or living creatures [3] goes back centuries [4]. Jack Steele conceived the term bionics back in 1958 to describe engineering based on biology [5].

Japan’s Shinkansen trains for example employ the design of the Kingfisher’s beak to avoid sonic boom. Whale fin contours are the basis for the quieter, more efficient wind turbines with serrated edges [6]. And, there was the Gator Sharkote project that studied shark shin to develop an anti-fouling coating [7].

Robots & Grippers

Robots utilize two types of end effectors viz. grippers and tools. Connected at the robot wrist, they are usually custom built for specific operations. End-of-Arm Tooling (EOAT) is among the principal robot parts because it comes in touch with the part [8].

Grippers are generally involved with loading-unloading operations. One area where robots have an edge over manual labour is that they cause minimal damage to the handled part – the quality advantage of automation. But this advantage materializes only with the proper design and fabrication of gripper [8].

Robots utilize four main types of grippers [8]:

  • Vacuum Grippers are flexible, making them a standard EOAT. Polyurethane or rubber suction cups or closed cell layer of foam rubber acts as the pickup mechanism.
  • Hydraulic Grippers deliver up to 2000 psi gripping force, but are prone to oil leakages and maintenance issues.
  • Pneumatic Grippers are small sized and lightweight.
  • Servo-Electric Grippers use electronic motors for better control over gripper jaws. Plus, they are cost effective and can operate with varied material tolerances when working with parts.

Bionic Grippers

From the far reaching tentacles of the monstrous octopus and the mighty trunk of the colossal elephant to the sticky foot pads of the humble gecko lizard, nature presents countless examples for robotic engineers to derive inspiration from.

Festo’s Nano Force Gripper requires energy only to initially grip the object, not to maintain its hold. Located on the underside of the gripper is Gecko Nanoplast, a tape with 29,000 gripping members per square centimetre (cm2). Similar to suction cups, the gripping elements borrow their concept from foot pads of the gecko lizard [9].

Compressive force is applied on the tape to release the held part. The force reduces the size of the holding surface to a point where the part is smoothly released. Release action is based on the Fin Ray Effect, wherein the ends of a flexible structure bend towards the direction of a compressive force applied to its middle [10].

Four Fingers Lip by The Gripper Company has solid fingers for flexibly gripping parts and reinforced fingers for holding parts with greater force. With elastic material construction for smooth handling, the gripper has serrated tips for superior gripping of wet parts [11].

Ingrained self-compliance means the gripper can smoothly yet firmly handle parts of a whole range of size and shapes. Plus, it is available in three different configuration modules that allow eight different configuration builds for diverse utilization capabilities [11].

Tentacle Gripper is patterned on the octopus. Festo has made this gripper from silicone with suction cups in a double row formation lining the internal surface. Pumping compressed air bends the gripper towards the inside, enabling it to smoothly grip the part. And its soft structure allows it to assume the shape of the part [12].

Vacuum-actuated larger suction cups are actively involved in gripping. The smaller cups towards the gripper tip are passive. Coupled with its soft, pliable structure, the suction cups empower the gripper to grasp parts of umpteen shapes [12].

Gripper Selection & Productivity

Regulations dictate the use of grippers certified as food grade. EC 1935/2004 regulation deals with such grippers for use in Europe. The corresponding certification in the United States is FDA 21 CFR [13].

Soft grippers are best suited for handling random shaped, delicate foodstuffs. Vacuum grippers are better reserved for sturdier applications such as handling food boxes and beverage cans, as well as for palletizing solutions [13].

For maximum productivity and minimal downtime, use grippers that are [13]:

  • Compatible with the existing robotic set up.
  • Certified.
  • Suitable for dishwasher cleaning.
  • Of the required payload capacity.
  • Easy to replace with other grippers.

Finally

Robotic workspaces are moving towards zero separation and maximum collaboration between humans and robots. Festo’s BionicSoftArm robot, for example, eliminates the need for a safety cage. Based on the elephant’s trunk, it does not hurt technicians even in case of collision [14].

With the soft, human touch built into them, bionic grippers hold great potential in the times to come.

Cybernetik Technologies has successfully provided customized robotic automation solutions for the Food, Pharma, and Automotive industry since 1989.

Get in touch with us at +91 20 6790 9600 or [email protected] and harness the quality, speed, and productivity advantage of automation.

References

  1. 7 Types of Robot Grippers and their Industrial Applications, Ramon Ruiz, Ennomotive.
  2. Adaptive Gripper: Bionic Robotic Handling Solution.
  3. Bionics.
  4. Biomimicry: A History, Wyatt Schreiner, eHistory.
  5. When was Bionics Discovered.
  6. Biomimicry: 9 Ways Engineers Have Been Inspired by Nature, Donovan Alexander, Interesting Engineering.
  7. How Biomimicry & Other Innovations Will Make Ecoship the Greenest Cruise Ship, Kemplon Engineering.
  8. Grippers for Robots.
  9. Bionic Grippers for Automation, Control Engineering.
  10. The Fin Ray® Paper Kit.
  11. The Four Fingers LIP.
  12. Tentacle Gripper.
  13. New Robotoc Grippers Transforming the Food Sector, Kristian Hulgard, Robotics Tomorrow.
  14. BionicSoftArm.
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