California League of Food Processors 11 In addition to issues with worker safety, Allen also notes labor shortages and an aging workforce as challenges. He says many millennials don’t see manufacturing as a viable career. This is especially true in the fast-paced, often extreme temperature environments typical in food processing and packaging. Vause says while sanitary practice is always top of mind, the primary pain point is labor. “If you’re churning through your labor force, or you don’t have well-trained people or access to a well-trained labor force, then you have sanitary concerns. As someone who has worked in medical devices, I can tell you going into a produce-packing house in California, there’s a higher level of sanitary preparation and safety gear than there is in an operating room. “The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has also raised the bar on the sanitary requirements for a lot of these packagers and processors,” continues Vause. “You have these two major megatrends, labor and FSMA. Companies are trying to solve for both of those simultaneously. It’s an area where automation can really lend a hand.” NEW FOOD SANITATION STANDARD FOR ROBOTS Robotic automation is getting a leg up with a new standard. Five years in the making, the 3-A Sanitary Standard for Robot-based Automation Systems, Number 103-00, became effective on October 13, 2016. The RBAS standard addresses robotic equipment used in primary food handling and packaging. “3-A standards are some of the most stringent standards on the planet,” says Bob Rochelle, Document Leader for the working group responsible for writing the standard and an industry pioneer in the implementation of robot- based automation for food processing applications. “These are the same standards used to meet state and federal regulations for food processing equipment in Grade A dairy plants.” Feeding the world is proving tougher every year as our population ages and labor costs rise. Innovative automation solutions help tackle the tedious but necessary jobs. by TANYA M. ANANDAN, Contributing Editor – Robotic Industries Association the World The new standard is intended for manufacturers of robots and robotics-related ancillary equipment and the integrators of these systems. It establishes minimum sanitary hygienic requirements for design, materials, fabrication, and installation of the robot and ancillary robotic equipment, including the robot base, end-of-arm tooling (EOAT), tool changers and robot dressing.