The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way many businesses and organizations operate. Interconnected devices make processes more efficient and profitable, from health care to the industrial sector. Bulk material handling is one area where IoT technology is making a significant difference. Here are a few ways IoT material handling is helping in this field.
IoT Material Handling and Staff Shortages
Using IoT material handling technology is a trend that will increase as time goes on. Studies show that the bulk material handling equipment sector will make up to 10.84 billion USD in 2026.
This growth is due to a number of factors, including the demand for construction services rising after the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. This demand is causing a push for developing new technologies in the bulk material handling industry.
The COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected the U.S. workforce, with over 50 million workers quitting their jobs. The industrial and manufacturing sectors have turned to automation to streamline processes. This allows them to make production more efficient while having access to fewer workers.
With fewer workers available, certain tasks, such as bulk material handling, can be automated using IoT technology. This lets workers control any part of the bulk material handling process — conveyor systems, cranes and robots.
Automated bulk material handling systems allow companies and organizations to maintain or increase their efficiency even if they are experiencing a staff shortage.
IoT Increases Bulk Material Handling Efficiency
IoT connectivity has many advantages to offer the bulk material handling industry. Connected devices can form a system that increases efficiency without sacrificing resources or manpower. Automated workers such as robots and conveyor lines can work without rest, no matter how many heavy objects they handle.
These systems are also fully programmable, so they can easily change tasks and adopt new ones. While human workers often need some time to adjust to new tasks, such as how to handle specific materials, automated tech can accomplish multiple tasks immediately.
Automated systems work together with human operators who can fix any mistakes they might make. IoT material handling systems doing most of the heavy lifting while human operators provide guidance can ensure greater efficiency while keeping or expanding the number of employees in the workforce.
These IoT material handling systems make it easy for an administrator to control every aspect of the material handling process. This system also allows much more oversight than traditional systems — the administrator can oversee what the automated processes are doing at all times.
IoT material handling systems also make it easy to make necessary adjustments to the process.
Upgrading and making changes to automated systems can be much easier than training new workers, saving companies time and money.
Reduce Accidents With IoT Material Handling Systems
Bulk material handling can bring risks of accidents in the workplace. The chances of such accidents occurring vary depending on the industry, but it’s still one of the most significant concerns for any company. Innovations in IoT material handling systems can help reduce the risk of accidents.
One of the most common risks of bulk material handling is lifting and moving heavy objects such as industrial drums. Many workplace accidents in the industrial sector occur because workers handle heavy objects either improperly or during unfortunate circumstances.
When asked to perform repetitive tasks, human workers may become complacent and make mistakes that can result in injury or worse. IoT material handling systems are perfect for performing monotonous tasks — the more they complete the task, the more efficient they become.
Automated IoT material handling systems can reduce the number of times human workers have to perform this task. Robotic systems such as self-guided machines can ferry industrial drums and other heavy objects from one place to another, cutting down the time human workers handle such objects.
The increased monitoring that IoT material handling systems provide can also ensure administrators know the whereabouts of all the automated workers. The system can also tell if something has gone wrong in the process, alerting administrators to any possible danger. Any disruption in the system can also be easily fixed.
Greater Oversight Helps Keep Workers Safe
In addition to automated bulk material handling systems, IoT wearable technology can also contribute to making the workplace safer. Wearable technology refers to intelligent devices such as smart watches that can be worn. These devices can be used to monitor a worker’s whereabouts while handling bulk materials.
Suppose an accident occurs during a bulk material handling job and the workers involved are injured. If they are using wearable technology, the administrator can locate them quickly through the computer system. This system will ensure those workers are evacuated quickly and receive the treatment they need, potentially saving their lives.
In the event of an emergency, such as a chemical spill or handling malfunction, administrators can evacuate the facility faster by informing workers through wearable devices on their person. The administrator can also tell if any workers are still in the facility after the call for evacuation — reducing the possibility of anyone getting left behind.
The advantages of IoT material handling even extend to monitoring the health of individual workers. Since bulk material handling can be physically demanding, wearable technology can tell workers and administrators if a worker is feeling tired or stressed.
Monitoring statistics like heart and breathing rate can tell a worker if they need a break or are under duress, potentially stopping them from making mistakes due to fatigue, losing their concentration or even falling unconscious while handling heavy materials.
IoT is Changing the Face of Bulk Material Handling
The technology created by the Internet of Things is affecting every industry, including the bulk material handling sector. IoT material handling systems can create opportunities to increase efficiency in the face of significant staff shortages.
IoT technology simplifies material handling by allowing machines to do most of the heavy lifting. Less human labor also means reduced opportunities for workplace accidents and increased safety. Outside of labor, IoT systems allow more oversight of projects, making workflow adjustments easier.
Emily Newton is a technology and industrial journalist. She is also the Editor in Chief of Revolutionized. She has over five years covering stories about warehousing, logistics and distribution.