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OAL secure £450k funding for robotics in food manufacturing

10 May 2017/Categories: CILT, Industry News, Operations Management


(IMAGE SOURCE: Business Link Magazine)

OAL have announced they have been awarded £448,850 to develop innovative APRIL™ robotics material handling systems for food manufacturers from Innovate UK.

The new project focuses on overcoming the well-documented productivity challenges food manufacturers face preparing ingredients. It will be led by engineers from OAL utilising the latest robotic and automation technologies.

The new one-year project, which is supported by a grant of £448,850 from the UK Government via Innovate UK and the EPSRC’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) research fund, will focus on automating the processes of handling, weighing and transporting the raw ingredients. It will also make strides in developing key hygiene and food safety features which will be crucial when using robotic production systems within the food manufacturing sector. Researchers from the University of Lincoln will be supporting the project with work being undertaken at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Holbeach, UK.

Harry Norman, Managing Director of OAL, explains more about the project: “Food manufacturers are facing rising costs and with little opportunity to increase their prices, they are seeking new and effective ways of improving productivity. Throughout the project, we’ll be taking a step-by-step approach, working our way through common operations found across the food manufacturing sector such as weighing, sieving, and moving ingredients around. One criticism of automated systems in the past has been the lack of flexibility, but we will aim to develop flexible APRIL robotic systems that can handle some of these tasks and take the pressure off food manufacturers.”
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