How Has The Pandemic Forced Us To Adapt In The Food Manufacturing Industry?

Monday, March 7th, 2022

The adoption of new digital technologies will likely be one of the top trends in 2022, and it will be of no exception for food manufacturing industry.

One of the trends we can expect is an increase in automation.

“The World Robotics 2021 Industrial Robots report shows a record of three million industrial robots operating in factories around the world – an increase of 10 percent. Asia remains the world’s largest market for industrial robots. 71 percent of all newly deployed robots in 2020 were installed in Asia (2019: 67 percent).” Cited from The World Robotics 2021 Industrial Robots.1

COVID-19 pandemic has shifted workforce priorities and accelerated efforts to implement technologies to automate processes. Food manufacturing is one of industries affected and faced impacts on labour and operations.

Technologies will be integrated to facilitate people and machines working together in a redesigned workflow, producing better outcomes than each could achieve on their own. This has put a lot of pressure on technology solution providers to develop machineries that will assist customers achieve their goals, while having fewer employees on-site as manpower arrangement has become extremely challenging.


The top 4 common challenges faced are:

  • On-site manpower shortages
  • Need to put in placecontrol measures such as safe distancing between staff at the workplace
  • Time-consuming for manual label printing, peeling, and pasting
  • Incorrect or poor placement of label which makes barcode difficult to read


SATO Print & Apply Solutions

One of the examples of automating processes is integrating Print & Apply systems to print labels and apply them onto the boxes and packaging.

SATO offers a wide range of customized Print & Apply solutions according to different customer needs and business processes. By working with an in-house software team and partners, we deliver state-of-the-art automated label printing and applying solution to help customers to streamline their labelling processes.


5 key benefits:

  • Automate and speed up labelling and packing for shipping
  • Flexible automatic label application on the product: either on top, side or in line with product
  • Customized solutions for various containers, including boxes, cylinders, and empty bags before product insertion
  • Save more time by incorporating robotics labelling solution to automate printing and applying of C3/ D/ Nameplate labels
  • Overcome labour storages and minimize errors with fully automated label application with label printers, multi-axis robots, image inspection, etc. and prevent errors in label application and shipping


S-Robo – Smart robotics for truly automated and robust print and application

Automation, such as robotics, will be key to alleviate labour shortages and improve process efficiency for businesses.

The S-Robo Print & Apply system delivers a high speed, automated and robust print and label function for food packets that do not need to be placed in perfect alignment. Therefore, operators/ output conveyor systems are released from stress on how to put the products on the conveyor.

Working with partners, SATO also provides automated carton forming and sealing solutions for enhanced productivity.

See how this works by watching this video.


Automation requirements for Print & Apply systems depend very much on the product or packaging that is being tagged.

Different Print and Apply solutions customized to the product type/ shape


Examples of labelling on different types of packaging:

  1. Boxes

Can attach labels at the side, on top, or even at the bottom.

  1. Shrink Wrapped package

Printing on base trays is common, as well as attaching labels to the side.

  1. Pallet-size Shrink Wrapped package (stacked packages)

Print & Apply automation works well with automated pallet shrink wrapper packaging lines. The label to attach is usually at least 10cm wide.

  1. Bags/ pouches (the primary food packaging containing food)

Depending on the technology, the bag may need to be in the desired position, or with the advantage of SATO S-Robo: integration of imaging technology allows convenient application even when the package is in different alignment but in the same place.

Watch Video of S-Robo


Printers that are built for Print & Apply systems are also designed specifically for durability and usability. Handy features of a robust Print & Apply printer are:

  1. Durability of the thermal head and platen roller
  2. Large ribbon roll capacity
  3. Easy, tool-free replacement of service parts
  4. Online Services to enable printer operation monitoring 24/7 to notify when parts need to be replaced, thus minimizing downtime
  5. Easy and intuitive to use interfaces like screens, buttons and displays
  6. Multi-language capability
  7. Able to connect printer directly to peripheral devices for standalone printing or PLCs for integrated printing without costly computers


In the food manufacturing industry, businesses globally are rapidly investing in advanced technologies such as automation and robotics. By implementing these technologies, it eliminates human errors, reduces the risk of product recalls, and manages production. Additionally, businesses can achieve higher productivity and higher efficiency while reducing cost.


These factors coupled with consumers continuous shift of demands and requirements for consistent quality, increased food safety, and unrivaled traceability, have boost the growth and necessitated the use of automated solutions in the food manufacturing industry.


Make a difference to your business with SATO Automated Print & Apply!

Get your customized SATO automation by contacting us here.






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