Robotics in the Workplace
At Kreider Farms and Noah’s Pride, we like to think of ourselves are leaders and innovators in the egg industry. In the mid-200’s, we were one of the first farms to fully convert to new, state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line aviaries to replace our traditional barns and today also lead when it comes to animal welfare with our American Humane™ Certification.
But at Noah’s Pride, we also thrive to innovate in the technology sector when it comes to adapting and integrating our practices to stay at the top of our industries. While you might think technology and food don’t quite go hand in hand, robotics actually plays a huge part of the innovation in today’s food production.
Not only do robotics improve the quality of our eggs due to automation vs. human error, but they also improve our work environment. These robotics have the abilities to handle our eggs 24/7 and do the heavy lifting making our jobs easier and more efficient. The use of robotics in the poultry and egg industries have been gaining momentum as a whole and are becoming more and more commonplace across the industry.
At our farms, we have two automated robotics systems. The first is for casing, where egg cartons are loaded into boxes, or cases. After cartons are filled with eggs, they are conveyed to a pick-up area where the robotics pick them up and place into the corresponding cases. The second is for palletizing, where these cases are loaded onto pallets for transport and delivery. This system starts by scanning QR codes on our cases that tell the system which lane they need to be re-directed to. Then, according to the product and case size, the robotics will palletize the product according to our specifications. Both of the systems we utilize are Kawasaki robots which are integrated into our processing by SANOVO Technologies.
Aside from making our jobs easier, these new technologies also allow for growth and learning opportunities for our current employees. Maintenance technicians can learn new technologies and skill sets to quickly address any concerns. They also work with managers to do any initial programming of the machines and load new products and sku’s into the systems as necessary. New positions have also been identified in the operation and monitoring of the robotics, creating opportunities for qualified and interested team members to train and advance their position within our company. For example, while our palletizer machine has eliminated the need for manual stackers, we have been able to retrain these employees and transform their positions into stacker-operators who assist in monitoring the day-to-day adjustments, updates or changeovers that may need to be accommodated.
So, with all the benefits in efficiencies and productivity, does Kreider Farms plan to expand their investment into the robotics industry?
“We will absolutely be installing additional robotics as part of fulfilling our mission statement, to produce the highest quality, least cost food. Not only in egg processing, but robotic milking, farming and dairy processing solutions are also beginning to enter the market and we plan to integrate these systems into our company as our growth permits,” says Tom Beachler, VP of Operations at Kreider Farms.