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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R005524/1
Title: Automated Robotic Food Manufacturing System.
Principal Investigator: Paoli, Dr A
Other Investigators:
Swainson, Professor M
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: National Centre for Food Manufacturing
Organisation: University of Lincoln
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 01 March 2017 Ends: 31 July 2018 Value (£): 139,325
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Control Engineering Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
The technology being developed in this project will revolutionise the industry as it will provide a truly robotic approach to batch mixing and cooking operations.

Three key developments include: 1) "Trajectory shaping" for ARFMS vessel movement to avoid instability and spillage. This work will have two aspects i) Software filter (work package 1) & ii) Vessel design (work package 2). 2) "Robot supervision" which is closely linked with the above, (work packages 1, 2, 3 and 4). This will involve monitoring with sensors what is going on inside the vessel movement wise with a view to developing a feedback loop to the robot to adjust trajectory and speed. 3) Hygiene compliance and BRC accreditation, (work package 5).

Food industry technical compliance expertise at the NCFM will be utilised together with an independent food hygiene consultancy to define the cleaning and technical control standards demanded by the food processing sector. This expertise will develop solutions for these challenges and will validate these solutions via a series of industrial scale trials in the NCFM manufacturing facility with an objective of full compliance to BRC Global Standard for Food, Issue 7.

ARFMS will utilise small processing vessels (weighing up to 1000Kgs when full) seamlessly moved by robot from process docking station to process docking station with no pumps or pipework and all instrumentation and control systems contained within the process workhead (lid), robot and installation. The robot will select and connect with the appropriate processing workhead, e.g. ingredient dispensing, mixing, homogenising, cooking, cooling and packing, depending on product being produced, and accurately locate onto the open vessel for activation of the processing cycle.

The project plan has been realistically constructed by the project team. It is proposed to comprise of six separate Work Packages and seven Project Milestones covering one or more work packages: WP1 (Milestones 1&2) - Modelling System Dynamics (5 months). Mathematical modelling of robot tasks, installation and use of small scale robot to validate algorithms generated. WP2 (MS3) - Optimal Vessel Design & Model Variances (4 months, 3 months running concurrently with WP1 ). This will ensure that movement speed, accuracy and efficiency are maximised without spillage of contents or system damage. WP3 (MS4) - Integration of System Model into Commercial Controls (3 months). Algorithms derived from WP1 and 2 will be integrated into the large size commercial Kuka Titan KR1000 robot. WP4 (MS5) - Full Scale Evaluation (4 months). This will evaluate the modelling and vessel developments on the large scale test system at NCFM's Holbeach facility producing real food products. WP5 (MS6) - Hygienic Design of Automated Robotic Food Manufacturing System (12 months running concurrently with other work packages). To investigate and implement suitable hygienic standard compliance measures into the system. WP6 (MS7) - Project conclusions, future development, dissemination events and commercial exploitation.

Key members of the project team are: OAL's Senior Management team giving support and guidance; Project Manager; Design, Engineers (Mechanical and Electrical); Software Engineers; ARFMS technician and operative. UoL's team consists of robotics, fluid dynamics, food manufacturing and science specialists and comprehensvie research facilities. Specialist sub-contractor, Food Fix Ltd, will provide independent hygiene expertise based on the British Retail Consortium's Global Food Safety Standard which is the internationally recognised food industry Technical Standard. The overall project, its partners and individual work packages will be closely managed by OAL's experienced Project Manager who has successfully managed other collaborative R&D projects.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.lincoln.ac.uk