Material Handling Industry: How Automation is Affecting Flexibility

In one big sweep, automation improves quality, safety, and productivity. It can make your company more competitive and can even prove as an effective marketing tool, just like the robots from Amazon all over YouTube.

Yet, when thinking about an automated solution, the drawbacks need to be considered too. One of these possible downsides is flexibility. It is essential to fully comprehend the impact automation will make on the flexibility of your operation, as well as recognize the importance of this flexibility to the operation’s mission.

The Relationship between Flexibility and Technology

As an imaginary experiment, think of the 3 following situations for a pallet-level warehouse:

  • It doesn’t get more flexible than in a wide-open warehouse; you can do all things you want but will probably have a lot of wasted space overhead and extended drive times.
  • High-bay racking restricts our footsteps a little, but otherwise stores what you need. You can have some quite good storage density and no more digging in bulk bays for you to retrieve buried loads.
  • ASRS offers tons of speed, the storage density is incredible, and is extra labor efficient, but can only perform particularized processes and the inputs have to be exactly right.

3 varying levels of technology – racking, floor storage, and ASRS.  All of them have their place on the flexibility scale.  Due to the risk of oversimplifying, the number of options a management team has generally declined as the automation increases.

Price and complexity vs. flexibility

We’ve established that the equipment used in your operation affects how flexible your operation will be; that isn’t terrible. Sadly, there is another bigger impact on the flexibility that is related to automating a facility, and it involves the investment that is linked to the project – both human and financial.

Below are some examples of how the operation’s flexibility is affected by capital investment:

Don’t mess this up: There is a much higher price to failure with automation vs. a plain MHE-based picking process.  As the expense for a trial iteration of a new process increases, a team will begin to lose the experimental ground that would allow them to try as many sequential iterations required to dial a process in. For projects with bigger investments, you practically have to get it right on the first try. At  Hovair, we employ best practices and simulations to reduce the impact of this issue. It is one of the best Material handling Industry.

Good things take time: To get truly invested in automation, your team will have to pass through capital approvals, delivery installation, purchasing processes, testing, and on goes the list! This situation is immensely different when comparing to a small or zero capital project where you can execute a good idea within the day. At times, the ideal situation for automated solutions sounds like “I think we can squeeze it in next quarter IF we just concentrate on it.”

Sounds like a great idea but…: Causing to the nature of automation, it is extremely difficult to incorporate all of the little adjustments and process improvement initiatives that users find by working the process.  Surely, you could include some, but often some great ideas are left behind because it’s too expensive to make the automation or equipment work in harmony.

Finding a balance

Flexibility and automation don’t have a linear relationship. Automation can be planned to maximize the inherent flexibility of the solution– however, you have to plan it in that manner!  Consider a collaborative robot vs. a traditional robot cell.

Automation moves on a spectrum. Not only are there multiple levels of automation for one process, but you can choose specific things to automate and not others.  The intrinsic flexibility can be found in apparently unexpected places (imagine a full-scale WMS with pickers on pallet jacks). There are great opportunities for the physical process, but it may not be so for software.

Return on investment: A business aims to make money. This should go without saying, but two factors heavily influence the return on your investment from automation; the return and the investment. An innovative engineer would approach this by searching for an inexpensive type of automation to generate the same return, while a competitive operations manager would milk every ounce of return out of an investment.  Looking at only half the picture limits the available tools.

When reviewing the unique challenges of operations, and the best type of solution or automation, it’s crucial to look at the entire effect of each option– including on flexibility. What might work for one business may not fit for another in a similar market. Whatsoever your challenges, Hovair has a lot of expertise with operations and engineering methods, plus we can hook you up with vehicle turntables, rigging systems, and shipping container casters to suit your needs.

How to Choose Material Handling Equipment?

Do you know that material flow directly affects the productivity along with your supply chain operations, meaning that the better your material flow will be, the more efficiently your supply chain will move. You might have heard the saying, “There is a tool for everything.” Well, we believe it’s completely true, especially when you’re in the material handling industry.

As mentioned earlier, using the appropriate tools will not only increase productivity, but it’ll also save you a lot of money and will make your supply chain operations much smoother. But it’s easier said than done, as finding out which equipment is ideal for what purpose is the real task.

You should start by inspecting the materials you’re handling; this will help you in finding out the equipment that you’ll be needing. We understand that identifying the ideal equipment for handling respective materials could be difficult; that’s why we’re going to mention a few tips that will help you in choosing the best handling equipment, making your warehouse operations much more efficient.

Understanding your needs

First things first, you need to know that there is equipment designed to handle every sort of material. So, what you need to do is understand and identify your requirements. You can start off by asking yourself the following questions.

  • Are the materials sensitive that you’re going to handle?
  • What is the frequency of their movement?
  • What do you intend to do with them?
  • Are the materials fragile?
  • Will the material be processed or stored?
  • What about the packaging?

Once you have the answers to all these questions, you’ll know what equipment to choose for what materials. Let’s say you are dealing with light materials that need to be moved to the top shelf, so an industrial scissor lift table could the perfect equipment for this task.

Understand the equipment

After understanding your needs, you need to understand the function of every piece of equipment in their particular tasks. While the functions could be complex, but all material handling equipment serves three primary purposes.

Light material handling

Forklifts are usually used for this purpose – materials that don’t get moved often and are usually stored in the warehouse mostly include small containers, pallets, and boxes.

Heavy material handling

It is advised to move bulk materials piece by piece. For this purpose, you might need special equipment that includes silos, trucks, elevators, conveyors, and drums.


These machines are best for people who have less space and want more work to be. Automated machinery will boost productivity at unimaginable levels. One example of such equipment is Vehicle Turntables – they work great in small spaces and provide the most efficient and safest entry and exit solutions in small spaces.

Processing requirements

Another factor to consider that could help you determine the best equipment for a particular task is how you process your materials. Let’s say that your manufacturing process needs a lot of moving parts, like:

  • High-speed packaging
  • filling totes, drums, or other containers

Such processes need heavy-duty equipment, and you’ll need to check this equipment regularly, so there are no breaks or halts at the assembly line.

One solution is to have customized automated machines that can make your processes much more efficient right from the start till the end.

What about maintenance costs?

That’s right, getting the machines isn’t one in a lifetime investment. You have to regularly maintain them so they can keep performing at optimal efficiency. Every machine or equipment you buy will need maintenance, some weekly, while some monthly. Therefore, we would advise you to calculate the cost of maintenance before you buy equipment as some machines are more expensive to maintain than others.

There are many tools and software also that could help you in calculating the cost of maintenance for every machine and equipment you own. Another tip is that instead of repairing parts, again and again, it’s better to replace them. This will actually save you money on constant repairs while also reducing downtime.

Machines and equipment designed for handling materials are a must-have for every warehouse or factory owner. Having such equipment on-board will make your operations and processes more efficient while saving you money. If you are in need of such equipment, then you’ve come to the right place as Hovair Systems has been manufacturing material handling equipment for 50 years and are the market leaders of their industry. We have the equipment you need to take your business to the next level.

The Use of Turntables for the Automobile Industry

Within the automobile and exhibition industry, the value of vehicle turntables is unique. Being essentially a rotating platform, it is particularly useful within assembly units, showrooms, and exhibitions, as it enables the manual rotation of a vehicle. Offering a varied range of turntables for trucks, cars, the automobile industry, and specialty uses, Hovair produces state-of-the-art turntables.

These uniquely-built turntables that provide high capacity and stable rotating platforms are easily customizable. Rather than opting for a DIY car turntable, opting for a solid, durable, and reliable turntable is a better alternative. These turntables aren’t just appropriate for residential environments, but are also suitable for a commercial environment, making them the required apparatus for exhibiting or examining a vehicle. Built with a sturdy material, they are a cost-effective and lasting solution for car-enthusiasts and the automobile industry. With either the option of powering them through an electro-mechanical or air-bearing system, they are convenient to use.

  • Easily installable into a driveway or garage using in-ground drive pits
  • All components of pit ring construction are provided ahead of time for the contractor’s use
  • The convenience and liberty of choosing between electro-mechanical powered installation or an air bearing system
  • The liberty of choosing multiple-positions starts and stops
  • Easy to use with high-safety, reliability and low maintenance
  • Easily usable control panel for internal usage
  • No need to turn into tight driveways or garage spaces
  • Drawings supplied with each model for the contractor to use

Industrial & Specialty Turntables

The global demand for vehicles has risen exponentially in the past two decades. This has led the automobile industry to progress ahead and integrate technological advancements into their assembly units. Requiring various equipment for manufacturing a vehicle, the automobile industry specifically requires a turntable. Facilitating the material handling industry, Hovair Systems provides tailored turntables. With the requirement of each assembly unit varying according to what they manufacture, turntables are fine-tuned according to the differing requirements.

Through processes such as hot forming, lifting, and positioning, part identification, stamping, welding, work holding, thermo forming, and assembly, a manufacturer works towards completing a finished vehicle. By opting for a Hovair produced turntable, an automotive plant benefits and gains leverage of the following:

  • Custom-built to the specifications and needs of the manufacturer
  • Supplied for a permanent and fixed location or provided for convenient forklift truck moving
  • Provided as either an electro-mechanically powered system or air-bearing powered
  • Can easily be controlled through a foot pedal, hand pendant or pedestal panel
  • Can easily rotate backward and forward with pre-set stopping points
  • The availability of a variable control speed- up to 25 rpm
  • Easily customizable into any size or shape- up to 24 feet in diameter
  • Easily installable through using floor surface mounting bolts
  • No need for excavation or digging for installation. It stands on the surface and bolt-mounts into position.
  • Easily maintained with spares being easily available (however, rarely required)
  • Highly-safe and easy to use – requires no specialized training for operating it
  • The manufacturer incurs no additional costs for training or any safety hazards

Providing not just the equipment itself, Hovair Systems also offers installation service. Possessing the ability to adapt to a manufacturer’s requirements, Hovair works ingeniously in different industries. This is because, not just the automobile, but also the entertainment industry makes use of turntables, in instance for a carousel.

As a result of maneuverability being a big concern within restricted and cramped spaces, turntables play a critical role in making processes time-effective, cost-effective, and efficient. Varying in customized sizes and varying loading capacities, turntables are instrumental for optimized space utilization and decreased operating costs.