Members press release

BARA, UK - IFR-Industry Association

The FP Awards; clash of the titans!

The 25th Food Processing Awards, held by Food Processing (FP) Magazine on the 9 February 2009,honoured ten companies working in the food industry with awards befitting their manufacturing, engineering, design and innovation achievements.

The ceremony this year saw a new high-profile award added to the line-up which event organiser and Editor

David Strydom described as a true 'clash of the titans' category. "Early last year, the FP team decided to tinker with the structure of the FP Awards by creating new categories, and making them more relevant to our readers. Everybody was unanimous that the first new category be Robotics & Automation. That's because most of our articles centre around robotics and automation, and because any talk of robotics usually creates interest in the food sector - even among those who are not yet ready to adopt it. It was clear to us that without this category, we were missing a beat when it came to our readers, to the industry, and to the future of manufacturing. When the time came for us to nominate our finalists, we looked at the companies and knew this category was going to shine. It was packed with heavyweights - a true clash of the titans."

The need for robotics and automation is seen to be crucial for the future of the UK food industry, although some manufacturers cannot see the immediate benefits and fear that buying a 'fancy' robot will be costly and not provide the return needed. All this is a fallacy and change is coming explains David: "Robotics and automation is being used more often, by more companies, and in more applications than ever before. This represents an enormously beneficial progression for the food and drink sector because it is bringing the UK in line with other countries, such as Germany, which embraced robotics & automation years ago, and has seen the benefits. Robotic applications in the sector are widespread, a few examples include: ABB robots can be used to improve product yield in cheese factories; KUKA.s robots boost the efficiency of palletising boxes of snacks; and Schubert robots can be used to rapidly pick-and-place biscuits."

ABB's FlexPicker Robot

KUKA's high speed palletising solution

Schubert's automated packaging system

The PPMA were delighted to see that Schubert, KUKA, and ABB were nominated for the Robotics & Automation Award. "When we nominate our finalists in each category, we use the past year's Food Processing magazine as a guide. Every company featured in a certain sector (e.g. robotics) becomes eligible for nomination.

We then single out four or five of these companies (a very difficult task) based on the quality of the product and/or the case study and/or the innovation employed by the company. In ABB's case, its FlexPicker robot combined with its Pickmaster software clinched it for us. With respect to Schubert, we were impressed that both Ginsters and Walkers Snack Foods had used (and highly praised) its automated packaging systems to transform packaging operations. And with KUKA (which won the award) its high-speed palletising solution and its ability in palletising bulk products such as food processing ingredients, made it the one to beat," commented David.

"KUKA is delighted to win this prestigious award which is further recognition of the company's innovation and technological leadership in the food and beverage industry" commented Alan Shilton, Managing Director of KUKA Automation + Robotics. "KUKA robots are set to play an even bigger role in these sectors because they are specially designed to efficiently and reliably automate traditional, labour-intensive processes, providing numerous benefits such as improvements in productivity and product quality as well as better working environments," he added.