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How AI Could Change Material Handling

January 16, 2023

Artificial intelligence (also known as AI) may be human built, but is a way of humans making various processes run more efficiently. AI is therefore used to save costs for the business as well as improve safety, and in many cases boost job satisfaction for employees too.

When it comes to material handling, AI has already shaped the industry beyond recognition in recent years, especially when it comes to aspects such as order fulfilment within the retail sector. But is there more to come, and most importantly, do humans need not apply?

Here is our take on how AI could change material handling in the near future to shed light on this topic. 

What Is Material Handling?

First things first, let’s take the time to understand what material handling actually is before we look at ways AI could change it!

On a basic level, material handling refers to the movement, protection, storage and control of materials, in industries such as manufacturing, warehousing and distribution. 

Metreel handling equipment includes:

All of our equipment is designed to improve efficiency within the environment it is used within. As an example, workstation cranes help lift heavy loads – something that would be very difficult for humans to do alone, not to mention dangerous too. 

Though, that doesn’t mean human involvement isn’t also necessary, especially when it comes to instructing the movement of the machinery and ultimately ensuring health and safety protocols are being followed. 

More Capabilities For Customisation

Similar to ordering food through a delivery app, it’s possible to customise your order in a way that’s far easier to do so than speaking to a human. The available options along with stock levels are instantly available at a touch of a button. 

In terms of warehouses and distribution centres, there isn’t always the capacity to be able to offer every single option, though automation could look to solve the problem, from taking the order to putting the item or bundle together for the customer. Even the parts that needed to be ordered not to mention the assembly (i.e for the car industry) could be completed by AI. 

If the material handling tools were mostly able to run themselves, this would free up more time and resources for the business. As with any successful AI integration, the key lies in creating a solution that best aligns with customer demand, so that the business can fulfil this in the most easiest and cost-effective way possible. 

Safer Material Handling Environments

Warehouses may be extremely productive environments, but they can also be dangerous too. After all, there’s everything from heavy loads to heights to contend with and even moving pieces of machinery that have the potential to cause serious injury or death. Naturally, safety is one aspect that cannot be skipped, and with so much at stake, AI could play a much bigger role than was previously the case in protecting employees.

As an example, when driving a forklift truck around the warehouse, the alertness not to mention competency of the individual worker is the difference between a safe transfer of goods and an accident occurring. AI doesn’t have the problem of getting tired or distracted, so companies could look to use it to improve safety within their warehouse.

Identifying Inefficient Areas Of The Business

Before the spreadsheet came along, you’d have to calculate your taxes and expenditure through a calculator before documenting your findings on a piece of paper. Now we have so much technology at our fingertips, businesses can also use AI to not only speed up various administrative tasks, but also to identify inefficiencies within their material handling operations

Everything from warehouse navigation to journey times, and even how long each individual task takes to complete and the associated costs to the business can be identified. So in essence, as well as physically assisting with tasks, AI can also help us take a more objective view of the business as a whole.

Without such data, it’s difficult to make improvements to the business that are going to allow it to remain both profitable and competitive. Therefore, AI shouldn’t be feared but embraced, especially since humans can never be replaced completely. 

Handling Equipment UK

Metreel is a leading manufacturer of handling equipment in the UK, specialising in personal safety, powerfeed and mechanical handling solutions. 

We supply a wide range of products that are designed to make commercial environments safer and more productive. With an ethos based on safety, quality and innovation, we’re proud to have created solutions for some of the biggest and brightest companies in the UK and beyond. 

If you would like to find out more about our products, or if you’re interested in any other of the services we provide, please give us a call on 0115 932 7010, or drop us an email

Alternatively, check out the Metreel Brochure to discover our full range of products and services.