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Robot potential for food & beverage SMEs

18 October 2021

A variety of robot technologies that were considered experimental a few years ago are now commercially viable for small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) in the food and beverage sector, according to a recent study by global robot hub, HowToRobot.com 



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The study estimates that robots will be a feasible option for more than 50% of SMEs within the next three years due to a global trend towards ‘proven robotics’ which has reduced both the cost and complexity of implementing robot technology.

The analysis identified the three key factors driving the trend:

• A range of robot technologies have reached a mature stage – according to the British Automation & Robot Association (BARA) the UK food and beverage sector is the second highest purchaser of robots.
• The cost of robot technology is falling – by 2025 prices are expected to have fallen by 76% since 2010.
• Global availability of suppliers and solutions has more than doubled in the past 20 years.

Commenting on the study findings, Søren Peters, CEO at HowToRobot.com, said: “The robot market has reached a pivotal moment for small and medium sized businesses.  This sector may have been hesitant to invest in robotics because of the price and complexity of the technology. Automation used to be exclusively for custom machine builders, developing a new solution for every project. However, In the last five years many new robot technologies have reached a level of maturity and price point where they can be standardised, meaning lower cost and quicker implementation.  Food and beverage SMEs can now adopt these technologies on a larger scale.” 

Examples of new robotic solutions entering the commercial stage include Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) that can navigate freely in environments with people, and handle a range of logistics tasks. Pick-and-place robots that used to handle only large volume production, can now handle small batches more commonly needed by SME’s. Additionally, the market for collaborative robots is expected to grow by 30% per year (CAGR) from 2020-25. Other growth areas include picking and placing, palletising, machine tending and for applications where SMEs often lack people, or need to cut costs. 


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