The conveyor market is currently estimated to reach $10.07 billion by 2025. It’s an absolutely massive industry that is starting to rely more and more on automated technology.
Businesses are rapidly increasing the implementation of conveyor systems in all sorts of places. From airports to shopping centers to warehouses and restaurants.
It’s an industry that has been thriving for just over 100 years, though we’ve come a long way from the first conveyors used in the coal mines of 1905. We’re at a point now where AI technology is fast taking the lead in innovative conveyor technology.
If you’re as interested as we are to see exactly what’s in store for this booming industry, then be sure to read on.
Where Are We Now?
A significant amount of the growth we’ve seen in the conveyor industry has been driven by massive technological advances. In recent years, conveyor technology has become increasingly sophisticated.
Over the last hundred years, we have seen nothing but constant improvement in the manufacturing world. And modern conveyor technology is no stranger to this! Below are just a few examples of the kind of technology we’re working with today.
Direct Drive Technology
Modern conveyors include direct-drive motors as part of the system itself. They are built into the conveyor at either end of the rolls, or even within the rollers themselves.
This reduces the number of gearing steps required, allowing for a more compact and simple design with accurate motion control.
Active Conveyor Belts
The roller belt is the foundation of active conveyor belt technology. It’s a belt embedded with an array of rollers controlled by actuators underneath.
Active conveyor belts allow goods to move fairly autonomously through a ‘global’ conveyor system. The rollers on active roller belts extend above and below the surface of the belt itself. This allows the product to travel across the desired direction as opposed to simply in the direction the belt is moving.
These systems are compact, cost-effective, and have the capability of efficient positioning. All that means is that you are better able to utilize floor space!
Smart Conveyor Technology
Smart conveyors use motion control technology for real-time programming. They use a system of carts that are separately and asynchronously routed along tracks. As a result, a highly responsive transportation system for a variety of applications has been created.
The latest technology is all about boosting the capabilities of a conveyor system.
Conveyors are the unsung heroes of today’s manufacturing industry. What we don’t see going on behind the scenes is radically fueling the industry’s expansion.
How AI is Changing the Game
Artificial intelligence is defined as a machine that is capable of learning from its experiences. It then takes those learned behaviors and acts on them. A machine that uses AI is currently one of the most advanced pieces of machinery known to man, aside from the human mind itself, of course.
Traditionally, the goal of programming is to instruct a computer what to do by breaking down each problem into smaller chunks. The machine can then process this and break it down even further, solving problems one fragment at a time.
In a neural-like network like AI, you don’t direct the computer on what to do. It teaches itself and solves the problem autonomously.
The Difference Between Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence is a term used to describe a machine that is capable of thinking and understanding like a human would. It’s a system that mimics natural intelligence that is implanted in a machine. Perhaps most crucially, AI is capable of decision-making in the same way that humans can.
Machine learning, on the other hand, is a form of programming that allows machines to learn on their own rather than through programming. While machine learning is a subset of AI, the ultimate goal is to teach a machine to execute a certain task with consistency, and to an excellent standard.
A machine will examine data and construct its own self-learning algorithms to accomplish this. The answers of the computers will always be static when it comes to machine learning.
They are unable to think or adapt in the same way that AI-enabled machines can.
Artificial Intelligence Trends in Conveyor Technology
Image recognition is a game-changer in the conveyor industry. There are technologies available now that incorporate cameras and AI tech into sorting zones. Systems like this will include professional lights in the machines themselves, industrial cameras, and software that can identify important data.
Boxes will move along the belt and the camera will detect specific images and text which gives it clues about where it needs to go.
This, combined with technology like omnidirectional belts, changes the way a factory could conduct business. Things that once required a more hands-on approach can now be left in the capable hold of intelligent machines.
The Benefits of Taking AI Onboard
There are a number of advantages to implementing AI systems in your conveyor systems. Two of the big ones you should know about is how AI can improve productivity and increase communication.
An AI is capable of recognizing a dip in mechanical functionality, long before a human ever could.
When failures occur, and they always do, an intelligent machine will account for backlogs and downtimes, and reroute production. All in real-time.
Additionally, an intelligent machine can mitigate client distress before it even happens! Keeping customers informed at every step of the delivery process keeps them coming back. When it comes to managing logistics and communication, an AI is going to take a significant amount of the workload out of your hands.
You’re on the Right Track
While it is inevitable that your system will face unpredictable situations, AI is capable of mitigating that. AI thrives on predicting patterns. This is what we want in a modern, changing world. A good AI can help you prepare contingencies for any situation.
The world of conveyors manufacturing has seen some major technological advances. Truthfully, we’ve only just scratched the surface.
Conveyor systems are the workhorse of every processing and manufacturing enterprise. It’s about time they got some time in the spotlight.
For more innovative conveyor technology tips, tricks, and guides, head on over to our blog for some interesting reads!