An assessment of potential uses for robots in food systems Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/j9602330g

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  • The purpose of this research was to determine potential job functions in the food systems industry for implementation with robots. The research objectives included (1) to isolate job functions in food systems that should be implemented with robots, (2) to identify job functions that robot manufacturers believe robots are technologically capable of performing in the food industry, (3) to compare job functions that are most desired by food systems with those that are technologically possible from robot manufacturers and (4) to identify characteristics of professionals who are evaluating job functions for robots in food systems. Data collection was accomplished through the use of a survey questionnaire. The survey, consisting of two parts, was mailed nationwide to target populations in the food industry and robot manufacturing. Part one of the survey consisted of sixty-four job functions categorized into the major categories of receiving and storage, sanitation, food production, food service, food distribution, related job functions, education and entertainment. Part two of the survey consisted of ten demographic data questions, involving age, job title, work experience, educational background, sex and computer usage. The sample population to receive the survey was divided into three groups. These were (1) foodservice industries, including hospitals, universities and primary/secondary schools, (2) food processors and (3) robot manufacturers. Management personnel in foodservice and food processing were asked to provide an assessment of job functions feasible for robotics implementation. Robot manufacturers received questionnaires to provide an assessment of robot capabilities with regard to food industry needs. Each population group was stratified, based on a predetermined cut-off point, to include only large volume producers. Individual participants in each population group were selected through a systematic sample with a random start. Of six hundred sixty-seven surveys mailed, forty-one percent provided valid responses and were analyzed using frequencies and chi square test of significance. Using a seventy-five percent or greater yes response rate and significance greater than .05, sixteen of the sixty-four job functions were identified for further analysis with the demographic data. This identification process was used to determine job functions which the food industry and robot manufacturers did not disagree on feasibility for robotics implementation. Looking at seventy-five percent or greater no responses where significance is greater than .05, only five of the sixty-four job functions were identified as not feasible for robots at this time. Analysis of demographic data with the sixteen identified job functions resulted in no significant difference in responses in relation to age, years of work experience, sex, computer usage or level of education. There were several conclusions to be drawn from this research. First, the overall positive response to robots in the food industry suggest further research with actual robotics implementation would be indicated. It appears that robots aas reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulators are not currently in use in the food industry. Second, persons in the food industry need education on robots and robotics applications in the form of workshops, continuing education and academia for students. Robot manufacturers need to be educated, through publications and personal contact, in all areas of the food industry to enable the development of applications to occur. Third, further research is needed to determine appropriate job skills and training needed for food industry employees replaced by robots.
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