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4 Tips to Improve Your Material Handling System

Admin | September 13th, 2021

The material handling industry is ever-changing as manufacturers adopt new technologies to efficiently build, move, store, and ship products. At KEB, we offer a bevy of drives, gearmotors, brakes, and other material handling solutions to power the supply chain and give our customers a competitive edge. 

 

Let’s explore some practical advice to help improve your material handling system—and align your company for long-term success.

 

1. Leverage Vertical Storage Space

As manufacturing and supply chain operations expand and scale, they face the ever-looming threat of space capacity. It’s a painful thing to move all your people, equipment, and workflows to a new location, which is why so many manufacturers delay and delay, often to the detriment of their business. 

 

Automated warehouse systems maximize space

 

This trend is especially common in Europe, where land space is dense and in short supply. To accommodate, many material handling and distribution facilities there are built vertically. This innovative approach uses specialized lift systems and stacker cranes to utilize all available vertical space in a building—transporting items and parts to exactly where they’re needed.

 

Vertical storage carousels are a great example. They’re effectively huge vending machines (40+ ft. tall) that store parts or components in rotating trays. You simply approach them, type in a number, and it delivers the exact part you need to pull. Solutions like these are invaluable from a space efficiency perspective. KEB gearmotors, controls, and drives are ideal for use in vertical storage retrieval cranes and equipment—so we can help you make the best possible use of your existing storage space. 

 

2. Invest in Robotics

Worker shortages are a growing concern across every industry, especially in manufacturing. Finding qualified people to assemble products, drive forklift equipment, and operate other complex machinery is a constant challenge, driving increased demand for (and innovation in) robotics.

 

KEB America uses robotic automation in its own manufacturing facility (watch our behind the scenes video on robotic automation)

 

Dedicated robotic systems and robot cells represent a fundamental shift for material handling systems. These solutions deliver a much higher work output than any person could, and are especially suited to strenuous, repetitive tasks. Think of an employee lifting a very heavy casting all day. Robotics can accomplish this lifting task much more quickly, safely, and efficiently—unlocking a new standard in productivity. 

 

KEB spring applied brakes excel in robotics systems and products for material handling. These solutions provide fail-safe spring-set power-off brake engagement—and can be customized for whatever your application requires, whether it’s holding a robotic arm in place during operation or ensuring smooth, safe stops on mobile carts. 

 

3. Utilize Functional Safety (FS) Products

As manufacturers rely more on automation and robotics, they have to reckon with the safety aspect as well. Automated machines are extremely efficient, but also present new safety challenges—such as ensuring that active robots are isolated from people to avoid collisions and accidents. This is where functional safety (FS) products can help. 

 

KEB’s safety products start at the top with software and goes down the line to the failsafe brakes on the motor shaft.

 

FS products could include anything from emergency brakes to Safety PLCs, gear motor brakes, and drives with state-of-the-art Safe Motion functions. All of these tools are designed to keep the risks posed by machinery to an acceptable minimum.

 

For example, let’s say your facility has a robot designed to lift and move heavy materials. Typically, you would contain the robot in a large cage to prevent workers or passersby from getting inside—and program the robot to stop when the cage door opens. This approach is very safe, but also inefficient if the gate needs to opened frequently.

 

KEB drives offer a unique function called Safe Limited Speed (SLS). This allows the robot to still move, but very slowly, so people can enter the space and work safely without threat of collision or injury. Utilizing Safe Limited Speed increases productivity while ensuring worker safety, striking an ideal balance between these two important needs.

 

4. Optimize Energy Efficiency

Cutting energy costs and waste is increasingly important in material handling, where your distribution facilities run 24/7. Moreover, large storage retrieval cranes and other material handling tools are huge investments—and your team may be concerned about how quickly they make up for those initial costs. One way to assist in these efforts is by choosing solutions that are highly energy efficient. 

 

KEB offers line regen units as a product or as a plug-and-play panelized solution.

 

For example, KEB’s R6 Line Regen is uniquely suited for cranes, hoists, and elevators. This regenerative drive is fully compatible with 3rd party drives—and has 10+ protocols available for maximum flexibility across applications. KEB also provides a range of powerful motors to ensure safe, productive, and energy-efficient operations.

 

KEB Elevates Your Material Handling System

Are you looking for a VFD, controls, or a gear motor brake to improve your material handling system? As a leader in control and automation, KEB America delivers all of the technology and support you need to optimize your supply chain—and get where you want to go faster than ever.

 

Contact an Application Engineer today for more information on KEB products for material handling, including VFDs, motors, gearmotors, and more. We look forward to working with you!

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