Interesting Trends in the Materials Handling Sector
These are some of the surprising trends in materials handling that will shape industrial applications in the immediate future and longer term.
1. The Internet of Things
The idea of intelligent materials has a way to go yet before it becomes a practical reality, but the possibility of adding intelligence to what were previously inanimate substances is moving closer. Flour that knows when to load itself into the pneumatic conveyor and how quickly to get to the mixing point? Well, perhaps not yet, but it can’t be ruled out for the future.
At the moment, we’re at the point when sensors can be attached to materials handling equipment and those pieces of equipment connected to a process control system, so we can begin to see all kinds of exciting possibilities.
2. Automation – Drones and Robotics
We’ve already seen robotics in complex applications like car assembly. The next move, and it relates to the first point, is to enable a problem in a process to be signalled to the process control system, which orders a robotic worker to fix the problem. That means materials handling will have to adapt so it has components which can be fixed without any human intervention.
If you’re thinking of investing in a technology such as pneumatic conveying, talk to a company that understands the whole picture in order to anticipate what’s going to happen next in this fast-moving market, such as http://www.aptech.uk.com/pneumatic-conveying/.
For example, there is the massive potential for materials handling by drones interacting with intelligent process equipment. Imagine a vacuum conveyance system which is fed at one end by robots and outputs the material to a drone at the other end. Science fiction at the moment, but with both Amazon and Google showing intense interest in logistics and materials handling, we can expect some rapid and perhaps surprising developments.
3. Business Intelligence from Social Media
We don’t always associate social media (Facebook, Twitter) with business intelligence, but in the future we probably will do, as Supplychain247 has reported.
Right now, materials handlers know that there will be variations in demand. But it may be that they can make predictions much more accurately by analysing what is trending on social media and figuring out the implications for materials handling when there is an intense consumer focus on a particular food, furnishing or lifestyle trend.