Getting raw materials to the right place in the right quantity and at the right time is becoming increasingly complex and time-consuming. The turnover on the market is becoming faster and faster – and so a traditional process such as raw material handling must be significantly accelerated for this market through accompanying digitalisation. New challenges posed by new markets, a growing interest in recycling solutions or the rapid progress of electromobility require clear changes.
”The dust-free handling of raw materials for battery masses is extremely challenging, ‘ comments CTO Klaus Kilian of AZO in Osterburken, Germany, one such example. In future, not only product protection but also operator safety will have to be taken into account. And, of course, there are the special properties of such raw materials – very high requirements can hardly be solved with traditional mechanical processes, or they become very expensive and thus cannot be marketed well.
Data Analysis And Intelligent Tools For Future-Proof Business
A good example is powders that are used in 3D printing. Up-scaling, which is common in the industry, becomes down-scaling here. Some things just don’t work anymore when the systems get smaller. Handling is really challenging: operator protection is extremely high, and at the same time the product itself must be protected from environmental influences, as it is sometimes very reactive. Digitally supported handling makes a decisive difference here. Clear data analytics will play an increasingly important role in the future. In the future, data will have to be collected and analysed at various levels so that companies can react even more quickly and in a more targeted manner.
Thinking consistently ahead, the systems will also have to become easier to operate, and the same applies to maintenance: “The goal must be that routine maintenance no longer takes place every two years, but that the system signals itself when a component threatens to fail,” say the specialists from AZU.
The ubiquitous shortage of skilled workers also plays a significant role in this new, digital raw material handling. At the moment, there are still plant employees with 15 to 20 years of professional experience who can sense or hear the slightest discrepancies in a plant. Although not everything will be replaced by sensors, digital tools will increasingly be used to replace such specialists.
Raw material automation and logistics still include many mechanical process engineering procedures, but these must be combined with intelligent digital tools to be able to act in a future-proof manner for the benefit of the customer.