Skip to content

Rise of the Robots: Automation in Food Processing

The robots have arrived. And they’re here to stay.

With a world population projected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, being able to feed a population of that magnitude would require constant innovation and improvements in efficiency throughout the entire food industry. In a bid to stay one step ahead of the competition, food processors are now clamoring to improve efficiencies through investing in new technology and equipment.

Automation and robotics are officially the new frontier when building the factories of the future.

According to a survey from the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, almost a third of food processing and 94% of packaging operations are using robotics, and both say they plan on using more in the future. The survey also stated that half of the companies within the industry plan to increase automation in the next three to five years.

Leveraging New Technology

The advancement over the last decade has allowed processors to have more options and flexibility when increasing the overall efficiency of tasks that were at one time either too time-consuming, demand precision or extremely repetitive.

Robotics and automation allow for improvements in a number of different aspects including:

  • Generating higher yields
  • Product packaging
  • Sterilizing equipment
  • Better supply management
  • Improved scaling
  • The ability to have more products, both new and old, on the same assembly line

Advancements in automation also make it easier for processors to adapt to the ever-changing needs and tastes of the customer, as seen with the recent demand for more non-GMO products and organic ingredients.

Incentives for Innovation

Every savvy business owner worth their salt knows that to compete they will have to become more efficient. However, the amount of sheer effort that goes into implementing new systems can be a herculean feat. Due to the huge number of technical hours and fiscal expenses that need to be invested, many implementation projects span multiple months, or even a year, from concept to completion.

Luckily, there are generous government incentives in place to encourage industry growth through continuous innovation. The incentives take the form of tax credits that can be used to help offset a lot of the development and implementation costs for both equipment suppliers and processors.

For example, an equipment supplier, through the standard implementation process, had to get creative when installing new equipment for a client whose ceiling wasn’t tall enough to fit the machinery. So, they had to make the equipment fit in the same space, but sideways. The entire development process and changes that had to be made for the project to be implemented qualified for the credit.

Due to the customized nature of the industry, both equipment suppliers and food processors alike have historically been prime candidates for the credit, as there are a countless number of efficiency-focused activities that qualify for the generous Research & Development (R&D) Tax Credit.

Click below to register for our upcoming webinar on government incentives for the Food Processing Industry:

greg-knarrGreg Knarr joined alliantgroup in 2010 as a Director based out of Indianapolis and represents much of the company’s Midwest territory. Greg is an expert on the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit, and plays a vital role in alliantgroup’s mission to strengthen U.S. businesses by helping to reduce tax liability. Before joining alliantgroup, Greg worked with over 100 CPA firms across the nation as the founding partner of Hull & Knarr, with a concerted effort in the R&D Tax Credit for the Midwest region of the U.S.


Would you like additional information or do you have questions?