When it comes to material flow, conveyor technology plays a leading role in companies. Within each and every process chain in production, processing and distribution, conveyor technology ensures smooth processes in the delivery, storage and commissioning of goods. Conveyor technology 4.0 can be tailored to meet the individual requirements of various sectors and business models. Today, this often means creating complex platforms into which other modules can be integrated, including scanners, label printers and case sealers as well as scales, palletisers and robotics.
Conveyor systems are part of in-house logistics – known as intralogistics – and guarantee smooth, internal logistics processes. In the food segment in particular, complying with processes is key. To prevent spoilage and damage, foods have to be transported carefully and quickly, and cooling chains must be maintained, especially when it comes to frozen foods.
Conveyor technology elements such as track sections, transfers, roller sorters, sorter induction, bends, inclined and declined track sections as well as accumulation conveyor sections have to be optimally adapted to storage technology. This requires tailored application concepts that are continuously developed and advanced by companies in the process and packaging industries.
Conveyor technology has seen an increasing demand in high frequency distribution systems with a focus on automation and semi-automation. Compared to manual systems, driverless transport systems (DTS), automated lifting stations, loading systems, sorting units and tail lifts ensure an increase in safety, productivity and profitability, and are all firm favourites in the mail-order business.
In future, driverless transport systems will increasingly replace human drivers. Photo: ELEVATE von Pexels
Intelligent conveyor technology 4.0
Conveyor technology 4.0 is intelligent. In response to the increasing interconnectivity and digitalisation of processes, conveyor technology 4.0 systems integrate modern control and computer technology that can think. Automation allows the systems to make their own decisions in specific situations and thus ensure continuous processes. For example: machine stops and resulting jams and standstills. When machines come to a standstill, high expenses are quick to follow. Predictive maintenance allows users to identify faults in the system at an early stage, to counter these faults using intelligent conveyor technology 4.0 and thus ultimately save money.
The importance of conveyor technology 4.0 is soon apparent if we take a look at the development of the flourishing online trade over the last 20 years, for example. Since the turn of the millennium, more and more orders have been placed online. In Germany, online trade generated sales of €58 billion in 2019, according to the Information Service of the German Economic Institute [iwd, Informationsdienst des Instituts der deutschen Wirtschaft]. Here, consumer electronics generates the highest sales (online share of 31 percent in 2018), followed by fashion and accessories (27.7 percent). The leisure and hobby segment comes in third place with an online share of 26.4 percent. Amazon leads the German market, with sales of €9.3 billion, followed by Otto with sales of €3.2 billion and Zalando with €1.4 billion. In European and international comparison, the numbers are similar – here, internet trade and trade via apps is also consistently on the rise.
The boom in online trade demands speedy logistics processes that are continuously improved thanks to conveyor technology 4.0 and intelligent technologies and systems. Photo: maarten-van-den-heuvel-KSQgzzn3dW0//unsplash
The benefits of conveyor technology 4.0
Conveyor technology 4.0 allows users to optimise intralogistics processes at several levels.
Increase flow rates in warehouses and throughput speeds
Prevent standstills and jams
Speedy processes for customised orders
Flexible adaptation of conveying processes
Mobile units such as expandable conveyors can be used as necessary and subsequently stored in a space-saving fashion
Automated processes ensure that the right amounts are delivered to the right place, at the right time
Close linking and alignment of intelligent transport systems = benefit compared to human workforce