While it’s vital that robots are programmed to be at the right spot to pick up baked foods and load them into cartons or infeeds, it is perhaps even more important that its end effectors, or end-of-arm tools, can pick and place finished products without damaging them.

Often, end effectors use a suction cup and vacuum design to grab the product and pick it up. However, limitations still exist in using vacuum end effectors for picking raw products that have sticky or very high particulate toppings, said Craig Collett, director, robotic and wrapper product line, Bosch Packaging Technology, New Richmond, WI. “Mechanical grippers can sometimes be used as an alternative, but speeds suffer when using mechanical grippers.”