Industry 4.0, automation, virtual reality

Published: Thursday, September 14, 2017

changing the landscape for materials handling industry
Materials Handling Middle East 2017, the region’s dedicated trade fair for intralogistics, supply chain management, freight and cargo, will showcase how technology will drive the sector in the future with the emergence of Industry 4.0.

The Gulf Cooperation Council’s materials handling equipment market is estimated to grow 4 percent annually up to 2020 to reach revenues of between US$4.8 billion to US$5 billion, according to analyst Frost & Sullivan.

But the industry is forecast to undergo an evolution through the emergence of Industry 4.0—the merging of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, combining cyber-physical systems, IoT (Internet of Things) and cloud computing.

State of flux

Frederic Zielinski, General Manager of Swisslog Middle East, said the logistics industry is in a state of flux, with new themes such as Industry 4.0, digitalisation, and constantly changing consumer buying habits demanding new concepts.

“Industry 4.0 has the potential to reshuffle the cards in how businesses operate,” said Zielinski. “With networked intelligence in manu-facturing and self-organising production processes, the ‘factory of the future’ will perform a quantum leap in productivity, flexibility, and efficiency.

“The focus in the future will no longer be on the manufacturing process of purely mass-produced goods, but on the customised product manu-factured to industrial standards, and thus on customers’ requirements. This evolutionary step can only succeed, however, if we finally break down the barriers between the digital and real worlds.”

Added Zielinski: “At our Materials Handling Middle East booth, visitors will learn more about software and smart data we offer and experience the combination and simulation of innovative logistics systems that make the vision of a sophisticated high-tech warehouse a reality today. Warehouse management software will be the key in the age of Industry 4.0, so we’ll demonstrate our latest offerings in that direction as well.”

GENAVCO, one of the UAE’s leading suppliers of warehouse storage and material handling solutions, another exhibitor launching its end-to-end warehouse solution engineering capabilities during Materials Handling Middle East 2017, said the industry is adjusting with the changing times.

Neeraj Mahajan, the Director of GENAVCO, said material handling equipment represents an integral part of the supply chain of diverse industries for storage, control and movement of items – from the raw material stage to the distribution of finished products.

“The rising need for global production companies to automate operations and foster flow of goods in an efficient manner is the key force driving growth in the materials handling equipment market,” said Mahajan.

“The main challenge for customers in this region is to get a complete solution from a single source. They have to approach two or three companies for a complete warehouse solution. This process itself is time consuming and most of the time they are facing great difficulty to get an optimised solution meeting their needs.

“Here we play a vital role with our Warehouse Solution Engineering to overcome this challenge by offering end-to-end solutions. We design and develop custom made concepts as per customer requirements, so projects are delivered from one source and in the timeliest manner.”

Virtual Reality

More than 130 exhibitors from 21 countries representing 250 brands are participating at the biennial three-day event taking place from September 11-13, 2017 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Materials handling suppliers will turn to virtual reality 3D animation as educational tool for latest warehouse technologies.

Armed with HTC Vive Goggles, supply chain heads will experience how different technologies in fully automated warehouses such as robotics and Industry 4.0 can work together.

The Virtual Reality 3D warehouse animation will be showcased by Swisslog, one of the world’s leading suppliers of robot-based and data-driven intralogistics solutions.

Daniel Hauser, Managing Director for Central Europe and the Middle East at Swisslog Warehouse & Distribution Solutions, said that while visitors can explore an automated warehouse in a fun way, they can also experience first-hand its unique benefits.

“Virtual Reality 3D warehouse animation will become a real service for customers in the future, and there are different ideas within Swisslog on how it can be deployed in the intralogistics world,” said Hauser.

“It can be used in sales to show buyers what their future systems would look like up and running on site, and it can be used to simulate systems to determine the optimal material flow or to observe performance during projected peak times. Another vision is to provide access and track live operations of any facility in the world, as well as play back historical data for error analyses,” he added.

Swisslog will also introduce its new AutoPiQsolution, a robot based automated picking solution for small items, ideal for e-commerce, pharmaceutical or spare parts logistics.

Other leading warehousing automation specialists such as Kardex, GreyOrange, SSI Schaefer, and Daifuku, the world’s largest materials handling systems supplier, are also preparing something unique for this year’s participants to the show.

Andrey Kras, Account Manager at Daifuku’s International Business Department, said the company also plans to use virtual reality at its booth so customers can visualise automated systems of their choice.

“The hotness of the automation topic in previous years was measured by the level of surprise and discoveries made by Middle East managers as to how automated equipment can benefit their businesses,” said Kras. “Now is the time to make business decisions & start buying new automated systems.

“Daifuku’s name is still unknown to many in the industry in this region, so raising brand awareness is one of our main goals at Materials Handling Middle East 2017. We plan to continue using our booth as an education platform with multiple teaching aids to get ideas of automation across.”

Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, the organiser of Materials Handling Middle East, said: “The influx of leading players to Materials Handling Middle East underlines the enormous potential of the region as a leading market for materials handling, warehousing and supply chain solutions. Te event will continue to be the place that hosts key business deals and where fruitful partnerships are forged.”

Materials Handling Middle East 2017 will feature the 2nd edition of the Supply Chain and Logistics Forum, an interactive summit bringing together regional industry professionals along with their international counterparts, government bodies, and policy makers to discuss key challenges and growth opportunities for logistics in the Middle East.

The event will also return with the highly popular Forklift Operator of the Year, a unique competition where the UAE’s most skilled forklift jockeys go head to head to be crowned the country’s most skilled, safest, and efficient forklift operator.