Alberts NV

igu-award-adm | April 28, 2022

Application description of the installation
Alberts has created a Breakthrough innovation solution to fulfil our daily healthy food needs, a vending robot preparing on-the-spot fresh, healthy snacks, fully aligned with the transition to a fair, healthy, zero-waste food system. Consuming Alberts healthy soups and smoothies at the office and on the go, at least 10% of the active population will have incorporated a healthy snacking behaviour in their daily habit by 2025. Alberts developed an international award-winning micro-factory, a vending robot, that meets all microbial standards to produce on-the-spot truly healthy soups & smoothies using only Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) fruit & vegetables, additive-free. Alberts adds only pure water, resulting in a snack full of nutrients and a sugar content <5%.

As such, Alberts turns the classic food industry chain upside-down. Instead of centralising raw produce to big classic factories where pasteurised purees or freeze-dried powders are created to produce instant snacks with +60 days shelf life (low in nutrients), Alberts transforms raw produce in an environmentally friendly way, on the spot, in under 2 minutes, into a fresh, healthy, hassle-free personalised snack. Since it is freshly produced, the taste is optimal without juices, purees or powders added. Alberts free mobile app enables consumers to share their recipes and experiences with the healthy snacking community. A Health Coach integrated in the mobile app, gives the consumers personalised advice, based on their own nutritional requirements and daily habits.

Problem definition
Were turning a smoothie factory into a one square meter solution. Its part of a bigger trending and novel market referred to as FOOD ROBOTICS. The main challenge for Alberts was to remain Food Safe and balance the robot-like / machine-like level of the design. What we mean is: of course implementing a full fledge (c)(r)obot arm in our solution was an obvious possibility, but the result would be a very expensive overall solution with a big unused potential. Therefore, weve focused mainly on technical refinement of our system to arrive with a final lean solutions that can be scaled on the market.

The following specific challenges have been addressed by our tech team over the last years :
– Designs present in the Freezer Unit: running electromechanical solutions at -18deg isnt easy, it results in sturdy and britle solutions.
– Design a full-range linear guide in the freezer to not loose any freezer space.
– Design linear rails with a minimized number of degrees of freedom while maximizing the utility of the system + limiting the cost and space required as much as possible. Again: while putting food safety first.

As part of our process enhancement, were today implementing the Apiro modular gearbox system in the freezer, first tests were a success. Were now looking into the further integration.

How were processes optimized/costs saved/increased efficiency with automation?
Optimized Processes: we have managed to optimize our number of degrees of freedom to a minimum while delivering a highly complex system and production procedure of making fresh and personalized food.

Cost Savings: by developing our propietary solution (main architecture patented in EU, US, S-Korea, Japan and Australia), instead of implementing a cobot arm, weve managed to not only operate in the freezer but also reduce the cost with €15000. This is a massive advantage compared to our competitors since our total machine cost today is <25000 whereas competitors >66000.

Products from igus used
  • drylin® drive axes
  • Estimated return on investment
  • 7 to 12 months
  • How did you hear about the ROIBOT competition?
  • Colleague
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    Für den ROIBOT Award 2019 suchten wir clevere Low-Cost-Robotics Anwendungen basierend auf igus® Komponenten mit einer schnellen Amortisationszeit. Wir danken allen Teilnehmern für die zahlreichen Einsendungen!