CeMAT Insider

Materials handling trends: big data and logistics automation

Posted by CeMAT Team on 12-Jul-2016 16:52:30


Olivier Janin, Secretary General, FEM European Materials Handling Federation delivered his keynote presentation at CeMAT Australia on the trends and prospects in the European Materials Handling industry.

Although the industry is slowly recovering from the GFC, it is still not at the peak it was at in 2007 when it generated 77.1 billion into the economy.

There are a few issues arising from changing consumer beahviour. Globalisation, scarcity of resources, technological innovation and the stability of society are all impacting logistics.

These changes are also driving logistical complexity through increased eCommerce, as well as massive personalisation of products, equipment and services, humanisation and the increasing use of robots and logistics automation.

Below we look at how Olivier discusses how big data, logistics automation and the latest regulatory trends are impacting manufacturing.


Big Data

There are many opportunities for users that are arising from big data.

The offer for manufacturers has changed to become more complex and varied. Many manufacturers require vast amounts of data to keep them in touch with their equipment and what’s happening in their supply chains.

Businesses have an opportunity to optimise processes such as energy use, and showing where there are losses in productivity while also improving maintenance and repair through better reporting.

“Manufacturers have new products and services that they can offer customers while at the same time they can monitor the development of their products as users” Olivier states.

Cyber security in the EU focuses on making sure data is not cracked or lands in the wrong hands.

But there are questions to ask before embarking on a big data journey: who owns the data and who can access? Will employees have enough training to harness its insights?

Olivier states that these questions may only create more questions rather than answers. “All of this creates new knowledge needs that need to be filled.”

According to Olivier, all of these issues are new as they have no been dealt with or regulated at all. Most governments want to be support to the European industry to develop in a digitised world, but at the same time there needs to be measures for manufacturers to deal with certain obstacles.

“Legislation needs to be supportive not obstructive.“

Robotics and automation

Robotics will reshape the relationship between workers and their environment, but of course all this links with the idea that many workforces are changing from automation.

This is a process that’s not new, its been experienced in the first, second and third industrial revolutions 

.So to learn from this, there is a chain that needs to be created to inform people from universities to educate people, and manufacturers to train their employees, and for workers to ensure they have the right skills for their work.


Regulatory trends

There are a few regulatory trends occurring in the EU that may be seen to hinder the manufacturing industry, and according to Olivier, there needs to be a balance between the needs of the industry and regulation.

For example, exhaust emissions are being regulated by the EU, which is impacting the use of industrial trucks and mobile cranes. 

There are also talks to impose stricter outdoor noise regulations, but according to Olivier “[FEM] is trying to push that away as much as we can” as it will greatly impact business.

On another note, the requirements for the safety of machinery were adopted in 2006 but they are now being reopened.

“Sometimes there is a gap between the intentions of politicians and reality”, states Olivier.

The first pillar of competitiveness was safety as the manufacturer said that without safety there would be no trust in anything. There needs to be market surveillance to ensure that there is sufficient compliance. 

Technology is an important pillar for the European materials handling industry, but again looking at it from a regulatory perspective there are many issues that are being looked at by European regulators.

One thing to keep in mind is that the volume of exports outside Europe has more than doubled and is almost at 50%. This is a current change in Europe as previously manufacturers would make most of their business within Europe.

If too stringent requirements are placed on manufacturers, this will make them less competitive in an international market. 

Global market access should also be supported wherever possible by the elimination of trade barriers.

Hopefully FEM can continue on with the hard work it’s been doing to support the industry since its creation in 1953. If nations can continue to collaborate and work together to build the industry, may the EU can return to it’s peak economic performance of 2007.


Topics: Materials Handling, Logistics Automation