From labor shortages to hygiene, food companies have a variety of challenges that robots can alleviate. Soft Robotics Inc. today announced it has teamed up with ProMach companies Quest Industrial LLC and Ossid LLC to offer the food industry a robotic handling and packaging system using its mGripAI technology.
“This new partnership with ProMach aligns well with our mission to enable automation system manufacturers to tackle some of the most difficult food processing challenges with robotic solutions,” said Mark Chiappetta, chief operating officer at Soft Robotics. “Our easy-to-integrate, mGripAI platform makes possible high-speed, sanitary packaging of proteins, produce, baked goods, and prepared foods, directly from bulk, without requiring upstream singulation.”
Founded in 2013, Soft Robotics designs and builds automated picking systems using proprietary compliant grippers, 3D machine vision, and artificial intelligence. The Bedford, Mass.-based company claimed that its robots can help solve the hardest picking problems in the food industry.
Quest provides product-handling piece
The new food automation includes Quest's primary product-handling system, which uses a FANUC robot to load, orient, stack, and group products into a wide variety of primary packaging machines.
Quest, part of global packaging line supplier ProMach, manufactures industrial automation for the food, beverage, and dairy markets.
“The shared focus in high-demand sanitary protein and produce applications makes the partnership between Quest, Ossid, and Soft Robotics a great fit,” said Tucker Behrns, vice president and general manager at Quest.
“We have an excellent opportunity to solve some of the industry's largest challenges through a complete integrated offering capable of random incoming product handling with Ossid's full range of product-packaging equipment for a wide range of applications,” he added.
In addition, the Monroe, Wis.-based company said its vision-guided robots and equipment can optimize floor space for customers experiencing growing demand and improve production-line flexibility and efficiency. Quest said its application-specific software for robot applications including pick and place, case packing, and palletizing simplify setup and streamline configurability.
Ossid offers packaging for perishables
Ossid is contributing to the joint offering its tray packaging, which it said is suitable for fresh proteins, produce, baked goods, and more.
The Brattleboro, N.C.-based company said it provides leak-resistant tray sealing for case-ready products, flexible packaging for healthcare, and horizontal thermoform. It also supplies fill-and-seal equipment, weighing and price-labeling equipment, flow wrappers, and case scales to customers of all sizes arond the world.
“As a leading provider of packaging and labeling equipment in the food sector, we understand the daily challenges of our customers to provide the global food chain with consumer products as quickly and safely as possible,” said Jason Angel, vice president of sales and marketing at Ossid. “Teaming with Quest and Soft Robotics to maximize productivity at a time when labor shortages are so impactful is one of the most important initiatives for our company.”
Soft Robotics mGripAI picks for joint offering
Soft Robotics said its mGripAI platform uses ultra-fast 3D vision, AI, and soft grippers to pick irregular and delicate food items directly from bulk. The company cited the following potential benefits of the integrated packaging system:
- Combats workforce shortages by reducing dependency on labor
- Increases available floor space by eliminating the need for upstream singulation and sortation equipment
- Improves food safety with a complete sanitary and IP69K, wash-down-ready design
- Increases throughput by reducing product damage
In June 2021, Soft Robotics raised $10 million in Series B funding from Material Impact, Scale Venture Partners, and Calibrate Ventures. Past investors include ABB, FANUC, Honeywell, Tyson, and Yamaha.
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