Conveyor industry and industry 4.0 are intertwined and this relationship will continue to go even stronger.
We are standing on the precipice of a new era. Artificial Intelligence and fine-tuned automation is set to push manufacturing and material transportation into the future. Just as the Industrial Revolution, mass production, and computers and robotics heralded new epochs of industry, AI looks to be the next step.
But what does that mean for conveyor systems?
To answer that question, we must first understand what Artificial Intelligence means as it pertains to the conveyor industry. Decades of science fiction books and films have given the average consumer an idea of AI as the thing that makes Lt. Data on Star Trek so smart and sentient. That’s not really what it means in the real world.
Artificial Intelligence is leading to Industry 4.0 by allowing smart machines to communicate with and monitor each other in real-time. One of the greatest benefits of this communication is the ability of machines to recognize dips in functionality before a human ever could. This allows maintenance to be deployed sooner and limits interruptions to workflow because issues are addressed before they get out of hand.
Having an integrated, intelligent process can help with logistics and customer service as well. If the weather is delaying a shipment, AI can keep you and your customers informed.
This is not to say that humans will be cut out of industry except for those people trained to maintain these smart machines. The Internet of Things that connects smart machines relays information to humans for interpretation. Connected machines collect massive amounts of data that can be used to identify opportunities for further optimization.
Additionally, even though new machines are able to communicate with each other, many of them still rely on people to operate them. The AI simply keeps things flowing efficiently with less lag and greatly reduced downtime.
The Centrality of Conveyors
It is important to remember that, for all the talk of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 is all about improvements in material movement. With smart machines connected through the IoT with AI, conveyor systems are able to increase productivity by leaps and bounds.
If one avenue of production is down for maintenance, pallet conveyor systems can reroute production in real-time without creating a back-up on the line that progressively affects every stage of production leading to the blockage.
A versatile conveyor system can address the needs of manufacturers and logistics specialists as those industries adjust to the new possibilities of Industry 4.0. Incorporating intelligent systems allows a company to maximize floor space and workflow. Adding robotics also helps increase efficiency and workplace safety which reduces cost.
Conveyor industry trends have become so important to the future value of the conveyor industry will be at 2.29 billion dollars and growing within the next five years.
Anyone running manufacturing or logistics firm needs to keep up with the conveyor industry statistics because they are the future of the industry and the pathway to lower costs and higher profits.
Hesitance to Change
As exciting as the possibilities presented by Industry 4.0 are, change can be frightening. Some people may worry about increasing their reliance on WiFi and networked machines.
The thought is that if the network goes down, everything stops. However, there are any number of possibilities that can lead to shutdowns now. Smart machines and intelligent conveyor systems mitigate the risks of so many other causes of shutdowns by recognizing issues and rerouting production around them automatically that they make up for the risk of network shutdowns. Additionally, current events have shown that changes must be made.
The COVID Conveyor and conveyor industry
As reticent as some have been to embrace the changes being brought about with Industry 4.0, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented both an opportunity for change and a case for the necessity of change. Having a high volume of workers in densely populated areas is simply not feasible in the post-COVID world. Even with masks, the risks to a workforce in an environment that doesn’t allow for social distancing are much too high. The worldwide pandemic has forced industry leaders to re-examine their best practices and find a way to protect workers while maintaining efficient and streamlined manufacturing and distribution model.
In order to make the most out of the new reality, systems that allow for properly distanced workers is key. Of course, what works in one factory won’t be effective in a warehouse. Each business has specific needs for their conveyor systems. That’s why now more than ever, contacting an expert in the material handling to evaluate and improve your processes is a must. If you want to become a leader in Industry 4.0, it simply isn’t enough to put intelligent machines in your business and call it a day. You need the right tools in the right areas. By consulting with experts in manufacturing conveyor systems you can bring your business out of the pandemic-affected present and into a profitable future.
One of the most surprising silver linings to come from the pandemic is that the slowdown of the industry caused by the near-worldwide lockdown and quarantines has created a break in production for most industries that allows for changes to be made. After all, switching out systems can cause a temporary slowdown in productivity and efficiency. Because almost everything has slowed down or stopped because of the virus, now is a perfect time to bring about conveyor system changes.
The New Normal
It seems that every few years a new illness sweeps over the planet. COVID-19 has been the worst of these diseases because of its high rate of infection, range of symptoms, high morbidity rate, and a number of comorbidities. A vaccine will eventually be developed, but it stands to reason that another pandemic will come. The industry must adapt to this new normal and the pathway to the future is clear—Industry 4.0.
Fully integrating intelligent machinery into a versatile conveyor system allows for versatility in material movement while allowing for human workers’ safety. An optimized conveyor system can monitor itself for maintenance while addressing issues of ergonomics, workflow, responding to product inspection—the list of benefits goes on and on. But most importantly it allows for more space between workers to help maintain worker safety through effective social distancing practices.
The Future of Industry Won’t Wait for You
Industry 4.0 is the future. Increased efficiency and reduced costs from harnessing the power of the Internet of Things via AI will propel your business into a profitable future. But to get to that future, you need to take advantage of the moment. Consult with an expert today to see how you can improve your material movement practices. There has never been a better time to integrate changes to your conveyor systems to streamline your processes and increase your long-term profits. The future is coming. Prepare your business to lead the way.