How Technology Has Developed In Materials Handling

These are the trends currently shaping materials handling and how technology has changed the workplace. Warehouse operators are facing plenty of challenges. The materials handling industry is facing supply, demand and workforce issues, and none of them are easing any time soon. So, what can we do? Allotts takes a deep dive investigating the real ins and outs of materials handling.

Do you use mobile robots and drones in your workforce? Drones have been around for years and many companies are using drones, as they have the ability to speed up production processing internally and enhance storage capacity.

Most people think of drones being used for outdoors, but they can be really useful for indoor warehousing. Why? Because drones can take pictures of as many as 30 frames per second on warehouse shelves and can therefore, check on any miss-placed stock or if any items are missing. Similar to robots, they are revolutionising the floor space in warehouses. Robots are becoming more flexible and are reducing costs. As we know, technology changes constantly and products, like robots, are becoming smaller and more efficient.

Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) trend in the workplace

Smart investing in the latest materials handling machines, saves money and is more energy-efficient. For instance, using automation reduces waste and the human involvement. Some companies may disagree with that and prefer human involvement. But, in a big warehouse with a large distribution list, setting up automated machines makes sense. The automated machines are able to carry a heavier load and work for a longer amount of time, so invest in those machines if you can.

We know that Artificial Intelligence can be really good at what it does and that somehow, it knows what we are about to search on Google. Using AI in warehousing means it can assess and monitor any out-of-date stock quicker than a human doing it. It also means that it can gather data more effectively and create better inventory positioning – all in a quicker time.

Innovative storage space and machine equipment

Allott and Associates is researching the changes in materials handling and how it affects today’s working manufacturing processes. The changes in demographics and increase in urbanisation, means higher property prices. Therefore, to find a low-cost warehouse is hard. This ties in with the common topic of the shortage of warehousing and logistics facilities.

Creating an innovative storage space, may become time consuming and to some, on the pricey side. However, investing in these innovative storages, can immediately boost productivity and save money in the long run. Materials handling management is an important part for ensuring the storage capacity is being utilised. For example, honeycombing can result in lanes not situated at the most efficient length or height, so keeping abreast of the latest developments is crucial. The equipment used in materials handling can be expensive and some companies may forego investing in, new and updated equipment to maximise their efficiency and can rely too much on manual loading. Storage materials are continually changing and being adapted. This can result in a lack of diversity, space or ineffective structures.

More companies are re-designing part or all of their warehouse space, from the floor to the ceiling – aiming for optimised product flow. Careful analysis helps the flow of tools from workstations and creating customisable storage. For packaging, it is important to add in these modern features too, as these optimise picking processes and improved inventory management. It also, makes it easier for packing and shipping by having smart and clever sections.

Reducing the travel and improving productivity is something firms may aim for, along with, building a dynamic storage solution. This trend also includes the increase of technology and software, such as, algorithms in Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). According to research, picking takes up over 50% of labour in a warehouse.

For advice on promoting your materials handling equipment, get in touch.