Robotic Decorating & Depositing Equipment for Bakeries
What do you see as the top trends in depositing today, in food manufacturing markets?
One of the top trends we’ve seen is targeted depositing with robotics. It allows for flexible conveyor configuration and container versatility. Food manufacturers have also found use for specific deposit designs to set their brand apart, from small strategically placed dollops to zig zag patterns. In terms of technology, servo-driven technology has been around for quite some time, but we are seeing it replace traditional air driven piston depositing due to increased speed and accuracy.
What are the latest robotics innovations in depositing?
We’ve started to see more advancements in mobile depositing, which is also called ‘non-configured depositing’. Traditionally, depositors would be stationary at the conveyor, and they would only deposit onto a specific area of a product in a tray or a container that’s configured on a conveyor. With mobile depositing solutions such as a cobot, the containers do not need to be specifically “lined up” on a conveyor because the robotic arm senses the container, moves towards it, and deposits while the container is moving down the conveyor.
What robotics equipment does Apex Motion Control offer to help food manufacturers with depositing?
The Baker-Bot is not really a depositing system when you think of traditional depositors such as piston or servo depositors, but when it is fitted with a pump and attachments, the Baker-Bot will deposit all types of flowable liquids. With the inclusion of a heated pump or tempering station, it can also deposit flowable products that are temperature sensitive, such as warm chocolate fudge icing onto mini bundt cakes or drizzled glaze over cinnamon buns. This flexibility allows the Baker-Bot to be useful for a wide range of applications throughout your production lines.
Can you give me an example of a food processor where Apex Motion Control has successfully applied their automation products and services to help with depositing?
One customer required numerous targeted depositing applications for ready meals like marinara sauce & alfredo sauce for different pastas, and BBQ sauce & mashed potatoes for a grilled chicken meal. This was accomplished by configuring a Baker-Bot with a piston pump and a standard depositing nozzle over a HFFS (Horizontal Form Fill and Seal line). You can watch a demo of this depositing system in action on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/qWw1HL4kxTc
What are some challenges and opportunities for robotics with depositing applications?
Depositing can be difficult for products/applications that have large inclusions, are temperature sensitive, or are situated in environments that require full washdowns of robotic equipment — the opportunities for depositing are endless. A general rule of thumb is, as long as the product flows, we can deposit it. On the flipside, one of the biggest opportunities we see is robotic cake decorating, where icing can be applied to cookies, cupcakes and tops and sides of cakes with basic or intricate designs. With collaborative robots like the Baker-Bot, or the fully integrated Deco-Bot system, users can decorate cakes with rosettes, roses, drizzling, writing, and any other designs that they can draw onto a tablet and store into a recipe catalogue for easy access.