Is Robotic Materials Handling Equipment Really A Necessity?

Robotic arm acting as a materials handling system for manufacturing

With the term Industry 4.0 buzzing across various sectors right now, robotisation is in the spotlight. While there’s undoubtedly immense value in applying it to machinery, the technology used for loading, unloading, and storing raw products requires a more nuanced discussion. The question is: does automation really make a difference here?

In the interest of streamlining facilities across Australia and New Zealand, we’ve often debated that question. Drawing from our in-depth knowledge of production and workshop processes, we’ve analysed each case and shared our perspectives. See what our experts have to say about the matter below, and weigh up your own values!

What benefits are afforded by materials handling solutions?

In essence, all devices and equipment under this category are made to safely move heavy or bulky objects from point A to point B. The loading and unloading of stone slabs is a vivid example of where these solutions are most useful, cutting down on labour cost and improving minimising the risk of injury.

The existing range of moving and positions tools includes:

  • Trolleys
  • Pallet lifting devices
  • Conveyor belts
  • Robotic arms
  • Storage solutions

A spectrum of price points and levels of complexity can be found across all of the above. Depending on the size of your facility, the sector you operate in, and the amount of employees working for you, the decision to go for simple or state-of-the-art will is one worth mulling over. 

The manual route

Going for a mechanical solution isn’t quite as flashy as the mechatronic configurations of steel and wires, but it can offer:

  • Greater control over movement and positioning
  • More stability and reliable access
  • Less long-term costs due to analogue operations and minimal par

Trolleys and lifting devices designed and engineered with fewer parts break less easily, give you greater control over placement, and don’t require electricity to power them. As a result, your consumables costs come down and you can always access the equipment you need, when you need it!

The automated route

Opting for this approach means: 

  • less employee costs
  • more efficient use of resources
  • Having the freedom to focus on growing your business without having to be present on the factory floor
  • Less exposure to dangerous by-products and processes.

So, which course of action is right for you?

Consider your circumstances

Clients come to us with questions about lifting and positioning devices, and we happily advise them. While our stance is always to recommend the most reliable, time saving option — generally manual — there are some exceptions for which we’d suggest taking on a more complex piece of equipment.

These are:

  • If you’re dealing with large volumes of heavy, huge stone slabs on a day-to-day basis
  • If your facility is short on space and needs to have fixed elements mapped out
  • If you have a reliable source of renewable energy to affordably power the electronics you work with
  • If employing an extra worker is not a feasible option

See yourself in the above? Then we’d suggest that upgrading to something beyond the simple could be worth your while. Always do your own assessment and feel free to pick up the phone and see what our experts would say — we have plenty of experience in the matter!

Get an efficient flow going 

When the pressure of fulfilling orders in short timeframes gets to you, the benefits of being able to optimise even the small tasks really shows itself. Our dedication to providing custom machine solutions means that both robotic and manual materials handling systems are accessible to help you get the work done in the least time possible. While there are plenty of standalone options to choose from, some of the latest machines we stock come fitted with in-built pallet lifting features, which can also be operated manually saving space, time, and effort.

The full range of stone handling systems and glass handling systems  is worth looking into if you’re at a point where every minute makes a difference. Everything in our line is ergonomic, user-friendly, and built to last, so you know you can rely on the designs to do the job when you need them.

We’re more than happy to recommend an option based on your specific case to help you achieve your business and production goals. Whether you need something that’s at the forefront of technological development or a reliable, minimalistic mover, each model serves a purpose that’s geared towards generating better workflow. Discuss your needs with our team and see how much ROI you can get from streamlining the handling of your materials, on and off your machinery.