The Material Handling Industry: More Exciting Than You Think

Written By: Bastian Solutions

Robotic End of Arm Tooling (EoAT)

Robotic End of Arm Tooling (EoAT)

According to Wikipedia.org, material handling is defined as:

“Material Handling is the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods and products throughout the process of manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal. The focus is on the methods, mechanical equipment, systems and related controls used to achieve these functions. The material handling industry manufactures and distributes the equipment and services required to implement material handling systems.”

Before I accepted my position as a research and development engineer at Bastian Material Handling Systems, I only knew of a peripheral definition for material handling, such as the one above.  This was due to my focus as an undergrad in automotive engineering, with some topical interest in aerospace and biomechanics.

I had the impression that between these three fields, the most important and exciting engineering work was being done.  After beginning my career at Bastian, I was pleased to find out that material handling is chock full of challenging engineering problems and the possible solutions were as varied and unique as the products they handle.

What’s most fascinating about this industry is that it borrows heavily from every engineering discipline that I learned as a mechanical engineering undergrad.  I had heard from other working engineers that I would only use 30-40% of what I learned in school.  However, I have not only used the statics, dynamics and thermodynamics knowledge anticipated by most students, but I have also had to brush up on my electrical courses, vibrations, and have had to learn other disciplines that were only offered as electives in pursuit of my degree.

The reason a material handling engineer needs be comfortable with all of these fundamentals is that he or she must have an entire toolbox full of possibilities in order to create the most effective solution for the client. It’s because of this required array of knowledge and technologies that I believe the material handling industry is much more interesting than people realize.  Thus, I have come to the conclusion that it’s the responsibility of those who are in the material handling industry to become its spokespersons.

In a series of follow-up blog posts, I will be highlighting some of the most interesting and exciting technologies being used in the material handling industry today.  These articles will discuss technologies such as automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS), robotic end of arm tooling (EoAT), Kiva mobile robots, zero pressure accumulation conveyor, and more.  Hopefully by learning about some of these new, state-of-the-art technologies, more people will begin to understand how exciting the material handling industry can be.

Is there a material handling solution that you think is fascinating?  Do you have a technology that you think would translate well to material handling?  If so, tell me about it in the comments section below, and I’ll write a blog post to share your experience!

Bastian Solutions is an independent system integrator dedicated to helping our customers increase their productivity through proven automation, information systems, and sound operating procedures.

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