A Connected Warehouse – How Industry 4.0 is changing the Material Handling and Logistics sector

Industry 4.0 and the trend towards automation and data exchange in logistics is a hot topic and the application of automated processes is being seen throughout many industries. However, the full extent of the opportunities and the benefits are only just starting to be understood within material handling and logistics as we start to see the rise of connected warehouses.

Companies within the material handling and logistics industries are increasingly focusing on improving processes and are quickly learning that the principles of Industry 4.0 can offer significant productivity gains. A connected warehouse can speed up processes, assist personnel to increase efficiencies, avoid downtime and provide live updates on entire automated solutions from start to finish.

The AMH team is experienced in delivering a connected warehouse designing, building and maintaining innovative material handling systems which automate and improve processes. When delivering an assignment, AMH will project manage the implementation of automated conveyor and sortation systems. In addition to this, AMH also designs and installs control systems to ensure your solution is simple to operate and monitor. Once the installation is completed, AMH can then maintain your system at varying levels with its bespoke maintenance and lifetime service packages.

Typical applications using the Industry 4.0 principles in material handling and warehouse management can include the following:


1. Sensor Data – Keeping Track

One of the key techniques which is rapidly being implemented across material handling and logistics is the use of smart sensors.

Data is becoming an increasingly important part of warehouse processes and AMH Material Handling is implementing many forms of smart sensors into projects. A smart sensor is a device that takes input from the physical environment and uses built-in compute resources to perform predefined functions upon detection of specific input. It then processes data before passing it on.

Other devices such as safety devices and vision systems scanners are connected to the warehouse management systems. They can be used for a variety of functions including checking the correct item is being processed, sorting items by destination and providing the WCS/WMS with a live status on where the item is within the system.

Automated weigh solutions are another key area within the warehouse environment to improve order fulfilment accuracy and provide key data to support the best carrier network for customers’ orders.


2. Inventory Management – Always in Stock

 Industry 4.0 is playing a crucial part in inventory management systems within warehouses. Using the WMS personnel are directed to what products to pick for each order. Workers are directed to the exact pick locations so that orders are picked accurately. As the orders progress throughout the warehouse, systems are in place to confirm that orders are correct at each stage, diverting those that appear to be incorrect to check stations.

In addition to checking orders are correct, the WMS system logs data to keep track of stock inventory. Automation solutions enable operations to track the stock levels on site, managing these levels and even automatically processing stock replenishment through the supply chain when required. This reduces low stock availability issues and maintains high levels of productivity.


3. Maintenance and Control Systems – Reducing Potential Downtime

As part of the installation process for new automated warehouse systems, AMH Material Handling will design and install the complete control systems and user interface screens on site. User interface screens range from small HMI (human machine interface) touch panels to larger industrial screens used as both a user interface and visualization.

Larger screen options are popular when combined with a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system. This allows the whole automated system to be displayed so that personnel can quickly review the performance of the automated solution and be alerted of any issues which need attention.

In addition to equipment for monitoring the system, AMH Material Handling can provide maintenance and service support whether it’s an onsite team of engineers or remote assistance over the phone. AMH will look at your needs and your business and work out a bespoke maintenance package for you to ensure that your system remains running and any potential downtime is minimised. This is essential for facilities with high throughput volumes – especially ecommerce businesses that can’t afford to have any unplanned downtime.


Connected Warehouses – The Future for Material Handling and Logistics

With a wealth of experience in material handling and logistics, AMH Material Handling knows how important and beneficial a connected warehouse is to maximise productivity. Whether it is automation in the form of conveyors or control systems for maintenance, Industry 4.0 is key for making processes leaner, more efficient and increasing throughput.

The team at AMH Material Handling is skilled at assessing your business and solving any issues you are facing. Their experience and knowledge are invaluable in designing and building innovative and bespoke solutions to create a connected warehouse that is future-proofed for your business needs.

If you would like more information or to arrange a free consultation with the team, contact Adrian Carter, projects manager at AMH on 0121 550 4342 or email sales@amhmaterialhandling.com