‘GRIBBOT’ IS DESIGNED TO ROBOTICALLY HARVEST CHICKEN FILLETS
SINTEF Aiming to Increase Automation in the Food Industry
Industrial robots, such as Kuka’s LBR iiwa, are becoming more and more specialized and possess an increasing range of capabilities that are truly impressive. However, a vast amount of labor intensive processes are still carried out by hand, particularly in the food industry. A team at Norwegian research institute SINTEF has taken up the challenge to develop a poultry deboning robot that will change how chicken fillets are harvested. The nordic team has created a prototype robot called Gribbot (gribb is Norwegian for vulture) that operates like a human hand, using a gripper tool to tear the fillet away from the poultry carcass. Previous attempts at automating this operation have encountered difficulties as it is no easy task to replicate the phenomenal dexterity of a human hand or the keenness of eye required to separate a fillet (the most valuable part of the bird) quickly and cleanly.
The team, led by Ekrem Misimi believes the Gribbot can optimize the deboning process and bring efficiencies to the meat processing industry. “A robot-based solution can provide more flexible handling. It increases efficiency and profitability by reducing production costs,” says Misimi. “It also can optimise the yield of raw material by maximising the amount of fillet that goes into the premium product and minimising the amount of meat that remains on the carcass.” Advances in 3D technology, particularly 3D machine vision, allows the Gribbot to adapt to different sized carcasses, which provides potential customers with greater operational flexibility. It is still unclear how soon the new machine could go into production, but it is only logical that the process for harvesting fillets will be forced to move with the times and embrace automation.