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AUTOMATED MATERIAL HANDLING SYSTEM Meeting optimal production rates with automated material handling systems

Nov 24, 2022

A few decades ago, the introduction of advanced technology, digitisation and automation completely revolutionised the way factories and the manufacturing sector work. The article highlights the basic features, principles, and benefits of automated material handling systems.

On a fundamental level, our society can be divided into base and superstructure. The former comprises resources like factories, industries, warehouses, raw materials, land, and more that generate revenue for a country. On the other hand, superstructure refers to society’s institutions and cultural elements like religion, tradition, the judiciary, and more. Businesses and industries bring in a huge amount of money that ensures the seamless operation of a society. Even though industries play an integral role in a country’s growth and development, very few people have comprehensive knowledge about different tools, equipment, and systems installed on an industrial site.

What is a material handling system?

In simple terms, material handling is a procedure that involves moving goods, packing, storing, and unpacking a variety of products over a short distance in a manufacturing plant or a warehouse. In addition, the market for material handling equipment is rapidly expanding due to globalisation.

So, there are two ways in which goods can be carried from one point to another: manually and through automated technology. What is manual material handling? It uses human or physical force to lift, move, store, or retrieve all industrial products and goods. Generally, organisations are dependent on animal or human labour for a manual handling system. Lowering, lifting, pulling, pushing, restraining, holding, and carrying are some activities that fall under manual material handling.

Features of an automated material handling system

In the latter, automated material handling systems come into play. They utilise upgraded technology to build efficient computerised systems that require minimal human assistance for moving, locating, retrieving, or storing products or goods. Here is a brief insight into some of the many features of automated material handling systems:

  • They are faster, easily scalable, and more agile. Additionally, the operator can also adapt automated equipment or system to simultaneously carry out more than one task.

  • Controllers, conveyors, wheels, casters, automated storage, and retrieval systems are some of the many components of an automated material handling system.

  • Automated material handling systems are exclusively designed to handle the routing, identification, and delivery of material to the right machine or system. This is also applicable for removing or placing the material from different load ports.

  • Irrespective of the transport, automated material handling systems deliver optimum results when the material information is visible and available in all the systems used by the operational staff.

  • These systems use the material and carrier tracking systems to spot the material at the pickup point. Next, they move towards the second destination and successfully transport the material at hand.

Advantages of automated material handling systems

Previously, human labour was one of the most important tools in an industrial setting. However, with automation technology and systems, on-site operators only need to provide these systems with accurate coding and directions to meet the required production rates.

Below we have carefully curated a list of benefits and advantages of onboarding best-in-class automated material handling systems:

  • Efficient use of human labour: According to experts and professionals, one of the biggest drawbacks of industrial automation is that it leads to redundant work profiles and unemployment. However, this equipment ensures that operators and administrators get time to relax, take breaks, and don’t exhaust themselves in meeting daily targets. While machines and equipment take care of labour work, workers only must assist and supervise, allowing them to put their best foot forward at work.

  • Better time management: Time management is the key to efficient business functioning. There are several repetitions in industrial processes due to many factors like equipment failure, poor management, functional inaccuracies, and more. In automated material handling systems, machines are already encrypted with pre-planned instructions that offer better results in a short span of time. Automated machines reduce the amount of time it takes to transport material from one point to another. How does that happen? In industrial automation processes, every step becomes more accurate and predictable, improving the overall cycle time. In addition, this also helps in giving customers a more precise delivery date.

  • Minimal contamination: With the rising concern of global warming and environmental degradation, people from different sectors of our society are stepping up to take responsibility for building a more green and sustainable future. As industries are equipped with a diverse range of systems and machines, they contribute to the pollution levels of the environment.

The floating pollutants are easily stirred by the functioning of machines, contaminating the air and the product that is under production. Hence, as automated material handling systems reduce movements, they ensure that the industry has a minimal environmental impact.

Courtesy: Schneider Electric

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