How Automation Can Help Prevent Cross-Contamination
Are you still curious about how automation can help prevent cross-contamination? Keep reading to learn about the dangers of insufficient food safety and the features of automation that allow you to keep your product safe.
The Consequences of Cross-Contamination
It’s no doubt that food safety is a vital component that every food manufacturer needs to consider while running their operations. Many have heard that cross-contamination can be dangerous, and hygienic practices like regular handwashing are highly emphasized in these kinds of settings. However, it can be difficult to understand how harmful the results of improper food safety regulations can be.
Simply put, the consequences of food contamination and recalls are massive. According to Fortune Magazine, sickness from contaminated food costs the United States $55 billion each and every year. The CDC has some troubling stats too, stating that each year, one out of every six Americans get sick from foodborne disease, which is a total of 48 million people across the USA. Clearly, food contamination is a real concern, and if food safety is not taken seriously, the consequences can be dire.
One of the main sources of cross-contamination is human error. Relying on humans at critical points of the food manufacturing process can result in disaster, due to cross-contamination from germs, pathogens, and foreign objects. Even when employees attempt to offset these risks through hand washing and protective clothing, a report by the German Agricultural Society states that these acts can only go so far as to minimize the risk of human contamination. When wearing gloves, food workers can still easily spread pathogens with their hands. Plus, the shoulder-to-shoulder nature of the work in the food manufacturing industry makes cross-contamination more likely to occur while workers process food — it only takes one forgetful employee who didn’t wash their hands to contaminate the product. All these factors combined can create a work environment riddled with the risk of improper food safety.
Automation: An Opportunity for Change
All of these concerns lead to an important question: what can food manufacturers do to make their products safer? The answer may lie in automation. Robots can play a large role in reducing the risk of cross-
contamination, while also improving the overall quality of your food production process. And by replacing these processes with reliable automated robotic systems, businesses can easily reduce this human-related risk to almost zero.
Thanks to advancements in technology, robots can now have a role in almost every stage of food manufacturing. With the rise of what the German Agricultural Society calls ‘hygienic design’, the threat of cross-contamination with robotics is much lower. Innovations in end-of-arm tooling (EOAT) have helped lower the risk of grippers harboring bacteria and spreading bacteria. As long as they’re equipped with the right end-of-arm tool, food producers can lower the risk of contamination, boost productivity, and ultimately, stay in business.
Another added bonus of automation is that modern robots are easy to clean and sanitize. One of the advancements that make this possible is the development of closed loop systems, which ensure that food can’t get sucked into the system’s airlines. This is an excellent alternative to open systems, which unfortunately have the potential to lift the debris off the product and suck it deep into the airlines, making them tough to clean. With closed loop systems, workers don’t have to worry about cleaning out these systems so often, and it’s much easier to ensure food safety during production as well.
Food safety is a top priority for food manufacturers, and with the help of automation, the risk of cross-contamination can be heavily reduced. In fact, many businesses have already experienced the benefits in improved safety, along with increases in productivity and efficiency. Modern EOAT and closed loop systems have done an excellent job in helping production lines eliminate the risk of cross-contamination, and these features make automation an excellent opportunity for keeping food safe.
If you’re in need of automation equipment including robotics and robotic integrator, Apex Motion Control has an in-house industry experts available to talk about your business needs. With Apex’s help, you can discover an automation solution that works best for you, such as our Baker-Bot, to improve productivity and food safety. Contact our cobot experts today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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