“Traditionally process technology has been the most represented section at the trade fair,” says Katharina Hamma, chief operating officer, Koelnmesse GmbH. “This year there is greater emphasis on food safety and quality management, as well as food ingredients. Visitors experience the entire production cycle, from how basic ingredients are processed and how a product is made, all the way to the primary and secondary packing of the finished product. Nothing less than the entire production chain is depicted at the trade fair.”
The theme of this year’s exhibition and technical program – resource efficiency – will be showcased through topics such as optimizing production processes, reducing energy and water consumption, and minimizing food loss through ingredient, process and package technology. The technical program is organized by Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft (DLG), the German agricultural society.
“The growing demand for commodities and energy sources worldwide and the increasing urbanization are compelling us to review our present behavior and economic activity,” says Simone Schiller, managing director-competence center food at DLG. “Careful, and at the same time efficient management of natural resources is the key competence of sustainable societies, societies that are fit for the future. The exhibitors this year will be presenting a range of solutions showing how competitiveness can be strengthened and how the use of energy and water as well as food losses during production can be reduced.”
A half-day program will focus on automation and data processing in meat production.
“In the meat industry, profitability and output can be achieved by automation,” Schiller says. “Whether in cutting, picking and placing, labelling, gripping, packaging or palletizing operations, intelligent robots can be used everywhere in place of manual work. Modern, high-performance lines offer not only the advantage of improved and guaranteed output – in addition constant product quality and satisfaction of high-hygiene requirements can also be assured through automation.”
Another half-day session addresses food safety in meat and poultry production, specifically sausages and hams. The speakers will explore new food safety technologies, including suitable sausage casings, modern drying and ripening systems, and the use of starter and protective cultures.
The topic of next-generation robotics technology will be demonstrated through every step of the manufacturing chain, from incoming raw materials, to production, to outgoing finished product.
“The main areas of robot applications are currently still the heavy palletizing work and tasks in the field of packaging and re-packaging,” says Schiller. “However enormous developments in the fields of hygienic design, electronic image capture and analysis, and gripper technology are making it possible to use robots increasingly for ever more difficult tasks in direct contact with foods.”
The most sophisticated robotics, many of which are still in their infancy, come equipped with collaborating arms, sensitive sensors and cutting-edge safety technology. These new autonomous lightweight robots, known as cobots, are designed to work in unison with humans in the food and beverage manufacturing operations of the near future.
The global stock of industry robots is expected to increase from around 1.8 million pieces in 2016 to more than over three million by 2020, according to the International Federation of Robotics. Suppliers will demonstrate efficiency opportunities when humans and machines work together, which is known as the human-robot collaboration movement. For robots to interact with humans autonomously they need active decision making that takes human partners into account. Though the industry may not be at that point yet, researchers are making great strides and their advancements will be articulated at Anuga FoodTec.
Suppliers will showcase how new sophisticated, lightweight agile robots may relieve their human colleagues by carrying out monotonous and ergonomically unfavorable tasks, with no mistakes allowed to be made. Typical fields of application are pick-and-place applications, the handling between different production steps or follow-the-line applications, where the robot has to precisely carry out a predefined path of motion, for example when cutting and portioning meat. The challenge for food producers lies in the optimal integration of the mechanical assistants into the production processes.
In addition to the theme of resource efficiency, there will be an expert forum on topics of current interest to the food industry under the heading “Topics, trends, technologies – what’s moving today’s food industry?” This forum will offer presentations and panel discussions on topics of current interest, including convenience, food authenticity, modified atmosphere packaging, genome editing, high pressure processing and more. A separate forum will be dedicated to food ingredients and product development and will address the topics of clean labeling, personalized nutrition, texture design, enzymes in food production and functional foods.
For more information on Anuga FoodTec 2018, visit www.anugafoodtec.com.