When we think of the agriculture and food industries, we can see their evolution from the farm to the factory. With the history of agriculture based on growing food just to fee the family unit and as the world population grew, the industry evolved to large commercial farms that produce food that can feed the population of more than one small town.
As people have to eat, the food producing industry is one of the most important in every country in the world. Therefore, it has seen large investments in research and studies to ensure that it can maximize its output to feed as many people as possible and make a substantial profit for those involved.
As other manufacturing industries have grown and adopted automation as a way for faster and better production agriculture has not been left behind. Through the many sectors of the agriculture industry, different food producers have adopted the use of coots as their industrial robots of choice.
Just like in other industries, robots are taking over agriculture and food, and the future is bright and better for this industry as a result.
Robots are carrying out several tasks in food production, saving time and lowering the cost of production.
Applications of Cobots in Food and Agriculture
Planting is the first stage of food production. It involves digging up holes in the land and putting in the seeds and covering it up. Or, scattering seeds in the land and hoping that they will grow. These two planting processes were the foundation of agriculture. They consumed time and manpower. For commercial farms, this means that they consume more money.
To save on time, money and manpower, tractors were introduced to help with planting. Now, in the age of cobots, they are the leading planters in the farm. With their compact size, they can be easily moved around the farm. They can then be programmed to harvest in less spaces and thus boosting up the harvest.
Watering the plants
Once planted, seeds and growing plants need to be watered often. With the increasing threat of water becoming a rare commodity, it is important that water be conserved even in agriculture. And, this is where the cobots come in.
Being small, handy and computerized, they can move around the farm pouring the exact amount of water needed by the plant or seed at its exact location rather than wasting water sprinkling the whole farm with water even in places where nothing is planted.
Picking and harvesting
As automation was embraced in the food and agriculture industry, picking and harvesting was left to tractors and combine harvesters. Unfortunately, these machines were limited to certain types of crops such as wheat and corn, leaving others out.
Fruits such as grapes or strawberries cannot be harvested with tractors and combine harvesters, they will destroy the whole crop.
Cobots on the other hand can easily harvest these crops. With their advanced capabilities, thy can easily tell which fruits are ready to pick and harvest them. In addition, they are very precise and flexible and will therefore carry out this process faster than human employees saving time and money and ensuring fresh food reaches the market always.
Milk producing farms usually have large numbers of cattle. Milking time is one of the busiest times in these farms. The cows have to be rounded up for milking, washed and disinfected before they are milked. This can easily be done with a cobot. Once they are milked, the cows need their udders washed and disinfected again to guard against diseases. Cobots can easily and quickly carry out this process providing more time for the farm to take care of its milk while the robots take care of the cows.
As automation is increasingly accepted in the food and agriculture industries, we are bound to see more adoption and use of robots in this industry. Drones have especially become useful in tests, monitoring and even in mundane tasks such as herding cattle.