Experts in Man & Machine
Innovation 10.05.2016

HE (Humid Environment) Robots

An automatic choice for the food industry



If the HE robot has revolutionized robotics, the FAST picker TP80 HE has revolutionized industrial processes.
This new, extremely fast robot was designed mainly for sorting and packaging applications in the food industry.

Its performance speaks for itself:

• Speed: Up to 200 picks per minute
Diameter: 1 600 mm
Repeatability: ± 0,05 mm
High level of precision, even after thousands of operating hours
• Fewer robots on the lines, and 40% smaller footprint on average
• Robot support framework eliminated, dividing the number of above-product retention zones by ten

With Europe, the United States, and Australia leading the charge, the food industry is very interested in industrial robots, particularly HE robots designed to work in humid environments. The HE 6-axis robot developed by Stäubli eliminates the risk of bacteriological contamination, is 100% hygienic, and technically beats the competition by a long shot. In fact, it’s the benchmark product for the industry. Report on innovation with a capital « I ».

Bread, pasta, cakes, meat, fish, dairy products, frozen foods, and fruits and vegetables are all considered “living” products, food products that must be handled in strict accordance with the rules of hygiene.

To streamline the process, become more competitive, and offset the aging of the workforce, agrifood companies are investing in industrial robots. They use them for operations such as filling, distributing, cutting, labelling, sorting, packaging, and pallet loading. These operations must all comply with food safety standards to prevent the propagation of bacteria and enzymes.

« In reality, there’s much less risk of contamination with robots than with humans », explains Arnaud Derrien, Major Food Industry Accounts Manager at Stäubli Robotics (France).

But not just any robot: the HE (Humid Environment) robot developed by Stäubli in 2007—years ahead of the rest of the industry. « This robot’s design puts us at the cutting-edge of innovation, adds Arnaud Derrien. Stäubli is the leading manufacturer of robots for handling exposed products.»

Contamination limited to the strict minimum

So how did the company become the leading partner not only of food companies but also the pharmaceutical and electrical industries?

Stäubli originally invented a robot with connectors and cables inside the base of the articulated arm. The company developed this technological expertise to adapt its robots to high humidity environments and those exposed to splatter.

Result: HE robots are designed with two things in mind. First, the arm’s exterior is designed in compliance with EHEDG recommendations on minimizing water retention to prevent bacteria such as salmonella and listeria from developing. Second, the connectors are integrated into the body of the robot so that all the equipment can be cleaned. The equipment is smooth (with rounded edges), water-tight, and open below to allow water to drain. « The pressurized arm eliminates the risk of contamination », says Arnaud Derrien.

To make sure the robots can withstand frequent wash downs, the company worked with a manufacturer of detergents and sterilization products to make the outside surface of the arm chemically compatible with common cleaning products used in the industry.

This robot’s design puts us at the cutting-edge of innovation. Stäubli is the leading manufacturer of robots for handling exposed products.

Arnaud Derrien, Major Food Industry Accounts Manager at Stäubli Robotics (France)

Precision and repeatability

Apart from being very easy to clean, Stäubli HE robots can handle loads of up to 150 kg and have excellent movement and trajectory control, providing high levels of precision and repeatability.

« Without our HE robots, it would be impossible to automate certain tasks involving fresh or exposed products in accordance with the most stringent hygiene requirements, says Gérald Vogt, Deputy Director Stäubli Robotics. They undergo intensive cleaning and sterilization processes that no other robot would be able to withstand over a long period. Thanks to these HE robots, we can open up a world of new opportunities in the food industry and make industrial processes much more productive. »

Whatever way you look at it, the FAST picker is perfect for the food. This four-axis robot can operate with NSF H1 food grade lubricants, with no loss of speed. It’s easy to install and doesn’t need to be fastened to the ceiling directly over the food products. Now available in a HE version, this extremely robust robot is specially designed to withstand the intensive cleaning these robots undergo in the food industry.

Gerald Vogt, Deputy Director Stäubli Robotics
Man and Machine - POCHAT
The entire line of Stäubli robots is available in versions that operate with NSF H1 food grade lubricants, with no loss of efficiency.

For more information on the FAST picker TP80 HE robot, look for the next edition of our magazine.

Man and Machine - Robot Stäubli TP80HE

We have met

Umino de mayekawa
Tatsuya Umino . Chief of Robot Products - Mayakewa Manufacturing Company


The Japanese firm Mayekawa Manufacturing Company is committed to developing technologically-advanced solutions for the food processing industry. Tatsuya Umino, Chief of Robot Products, explains why the company chose the Stäubli HE series of robots for its integrated deboning system.

« The manual process of deboning pork is a very demanding operation, both physically and technically, which is why it’s always been difficult for factories to maintain a stable workforce. Automation of this process has long been called for by the industry, and Mayekawa responded by handing this challenging task over to robots.

We integrated Stäubli’s HE series of robots into HAMDAS-RX, our automated deboning machine, because of their high performance capacity. After taking an x-ray of the pork thigh to create a 3-dimensional image, the robot’s precision cutting produces a consistently higher yield for each unit processed.

The robots are also resistant to humid environments. A closed structure and pressurized arm prevent any contact between the robot’s internal organs and the surrounding environment. And its chemical-resistant, waterproof surface allows for regular wash downs.

By automating the deboning process, we’ve been able to help preserve the health of operators. What’s more, our clients can now rely on more consistent production output and quality, regardless of the size and shape of the bone to be cut. Stäubli’s HE series of robots was the only one on the market that met our rigorous requirements, and those demanded by the food industry. »



Established in 1924 in Japan, Mayekawa Manufacturing Company has made a name for itself in freezing and compression technologies. Today the company is active across a variety of sectors and has become a pioneer in automation and robotics for the meat processing industry.


  • Robot : Stäubli RX160 6 axis (HE) food industry version
  • Reach : 1 710 mm
  • Maximum load capacity: 34 kg
  • Output capacity: 500 units/hour
  • Cleanability: fully hygienic, HE and stainless steel

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