What is Industry 4.0 and what does it mean for pallet storage?
Simply put, Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth industrial revolution. Throughout history, there have been periods that represent huge advances in manufacturing and industrial processes and these periods have been divided into four industrial revolutions. The term INDUSTRY 4.0, the latest industrial revolution, relates to processes that involve computers that are connected and communicate with one another to ultimately make decisions without human involvement, offering fully autonomous solutions. The Moffett Automated Storage AS/R 4D Taxi system is a perfect example of this.
Before we take a huge dive into this, let’s take a look at the 4 key stages which have been defined as industrial revolutions
- INDUSTRY 1.0 – The first industrial revolution brought mechanisation and steam power which changed the whole concept of manufacturing. The implementation of new technologies took a long time, so the period which this refers to it is between 1760 and 1840.
- INDUSTRY 2.0 – The second industrial revolution happened when mass-production assembly lines and electrical energy took place and enabled a giant step in production efficiency. It is the period between 1871 and 1914 that resulted from installations of extensive railroad and telegraph networks, which allowed for faster transfer of people and ideas, as well as electricity. Increasing electrification allowed for factories to develop the modern production line.
- INDUSTRY 3.0 – The third industrial revolution happened in the late twentieth century when IT and computer technology was beginning to be used to automate processes. Automation was introduced to these manufacturing and production lines but the need for human intervention remained.
- INDUSTRY 4.0 – Industry 4.0 takes what was started in the third industrial revolution with the adoption of computers and automation and enhance it with smart and autonomous systems fueled by data and machine learning. The phrase was first used in 2011 but is seen by many as the future of manufacturing and industry processes
Automated Pallet Storage- INDUSTRY 3.0 vs INDUSTRY 4.0
So if automation was introduced to warehouses during INDUSTRY 3.0, what differences is there between automated pallet storage systems that are INDUSTRY 3.0 ready and from the Moffett Automated Storage 4D Taxi AS/R which is INDUSTRY 4.0 ready?
The first sign of Automation in the warehouse came in 1953, when A.M. Barrett Jr., owner of Barrett Electronics launched the “Guide-O-Matic,” a modified towing tractor reconfigured to follow an overhead wire in a grocery warehouse. Soon after, he installed wires on the floor for this “Driverless Vehicle” to follow. And though radical strides have been made since, modern AGVs still follow this same principle: aid workers in moving goods around a workspace.
Most warehouse automation solutions on the market, such as traditional AGVs, 2 directional shuttles, cranes, and mobile racking all fall under the category of an Industry 3.0 process. While these solutions introduce automation and computers into the warehouse, the need for human intervention and action is needed for these processes to operate. In many of these solutions, it is still up to the forklift operator to choose and lift a pallet from the racking manually, and while it may be more efficient than using traditional standard racking, does not achieve the most efficient warehouse solution possible nor does it result in a fully autonomous solution.
The Moffett Automated Storage AS/R 4D Taxi system is one of the worlds first warehousing solutions which does not require human intervention. Once the system understands the order processes of your warehouse, thanks to our in-house built software, the system automatically upkeeps housekeeping of pallet movement, positioning each order so that it can be completed as efficiently as possible.
Multiple Taxis operate around the system at the same time, as our taxi traffic management system ensures that there is never a collision between vehicles. During peak periods the taxis will store pallets on spaces closest to the inbound/outbound area and then during quiet periods the taxis rearrange these pallets to be stored in spaces that will ensure the system can run at its most efficient speeds, guaranteeing optimum throughputs.
The taxis are smart, and never allow their battery charge to fall below 40% charge, using our “opportunity charging system” which means the taxi travels to a charging space during quiet periods in the warehouse. Unlike other shuttle systems, our taxis have the ability to move between levels and in all directions, meaning any particular taxi on the system can reach any pallet space on any level.
With companies struggling to keep up with labour demands, yet wanting to maximise the pallet spaces in their warehouse and delivering optimum throughputs, the Moffett Automated Storage AS/R 4D Taxi system allows warehouses to see the future and see what INDUSTRY 4.0 can deliver.