In Australia and New Zealand, cobots can help make the most of the ‘Asian food bowl’

In Australia and New Zealand, the growing food and beverage industry was the first to turn to collaborative automation. This is a trend that will help sustain the sector through a labor shortage.

Australia and New Zealand both have a long and proud history as agricultural exporters. Australia alone produces enough to feed 80 million people, even though the country only has a population of 26 million.

Food and drink from Australia is exported worldwide, especially to the US and Asia, with China being the main end customer. From seafood and meat to grains, dairy and wine, Australia and New Zealand’s agricultural, food and drink industries make a major contribution to their jobs and economies ($71 billion in Australia). More than 243,000 people work in the food and beverage manufacturing sector in Australia.

In recent years Australia’s food sector has broken records in agricultural production, exports and incomes. However, Fgood production is still labor intensive and growing industries rely heavily on labor to prepare and package food and beverages for domestic and export use.

Despite record production in the food sectorAustralia currently facing the tightest labor market in decades. Immigration has slowed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses are looking for ways to do more with less people.iv It is estimated that by 2030, 1 in 3 new jobs created in the agriculture industry will be related to technology.

Automation helps food aand drinks sector

As in other countries, automation has a critical role to play in supporting businesses of all sizes. The World Robotics 2022 report shows that 26% of industrial robot installations in Australia and New Zealand in 2021 will be in the food industry.

Amidst a labor shortage, collaborative robots are well placed to support the Australian and New Zealand food and beverage sectors to package and collate output. Recent years, Industrial robots continue to gain popularity in manufacturing circlesers in this region, especially with handling and assembly tasks. With the increased payload of the UR20, bulk palletizing products, especially beverages, will become even more accessible.

There is a lot of untapped potential here as both countries are well below the global average ratio of industrial robots to manufacturing employees.

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