Monotonous and heavy work in the bakery makes it increasingly difficult to find employees. But traditional automation is too costly and inflexible when production only runs for a few hours a day. This project aims to overcome the challenge by installing mobile cobots in Marien bakery that can perform a range of tasks at various workstations.
Apart from providing a cost-efficient digital alternative to heavy manual tasks, the improved process control will increase food safety and reduce food waste. It will also generate jobs that are more attractive to bakery operators.
The project partners are F. van Wees Machine- en Stansmessenfabriek Waalwijk BV, an expert in digital technologies and automation integration in food production lines, and Mariën Bakkerij Producten N.V.
Final report summary
Following initial investigations, it was found that the originally planned cobot did not meet all requirements, so a different brand of robot was chosen. The robot, which requires a safety fence, was engineered to be mobile like the cobot. The system was designed for use in five workspaces. Before shipment to the bakery, the basics and stand-alone functionality of all digital components were tested.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, market introduction was delayed. However, due to the attention generated by positive publicity in magazines and on the Internet, coupled with staff shortages in the industry, we expect economic activity to pick up in the near future. Many SME bakeries in Europe face the same challenges. According to a market analysis made by Van Wees Waalwijk, around 250 bakeries in Germany, 60 in Belgium and 50 in The Netherlands could benefit from the mobile robot.
Van Wees Waalwijk now expects a 20% increase in annual turnover and a need for six more full-time employees in the coming four years.
Mariën Bakkerij Producten aims for economic sustainability – remaining profitable and providing high quality products for the consumer market while offering interesting jobs to employees. If production flexibility and efficiency increase as estimated, Mariën Bakkerij Producten can open another shop for consumer sales or start production for other local bakeries. This would lead to an increased turnover of 35% and jobs for three more full-time employees.