Material handling & robotics: Articulated robotic arm at packaging line in factory

Robotics in Material Handling

What to Expect?

  1. Benefits of Robotics in Material Handling/Why Use Robotics?
  2. Which Material Handling Robot Is for Your Business?
  3. Big and Small Material Handling
  4. Bin Picking
  5. The Future of Material Handling

Material Handling and Robotics go hand in hand, quite literally! The inclusion of tending systems and automated robots has become quite common in the industrial sector. It works with robotics arms moving the products on and off the conveyor belts during the material handling process.

In the increasingly competitive landscape, this allows you to streamline the repetitive tasks with the utmost ease. Anything needing shifted from Point A to Point B, programmable robotics can handle.

The market for robotics in material handling is set to touch the $39 billion mark by the end of 2022. The boom is largely accredited to the vast array of functions that can be moved into the robotics sector. Material tending, part transfer, palletizing, and pick and place applications are a few of the accepted ones.

Why Use Robotics in Material Handling?

The golden question that arrives when it comes to robotics: why should you invest in it in the first place?

Increased Uptime

Automated processes allow you to do more in less time. It also helps manage the tight delivery schedules through a radical shift in managing disruptions and reducing their overall potential.

Adaption and Flexibility

Instead of being driven by a web of wires, the technology can find efficient routes and change in line with the industries’ inventories and workforce—thus lending space for scalability and flexibility.

Controlled Outlay and Labor Management

Robotics doesn’t replace your labor; it makes them more efficient. The automated solutions make up for employee shortages, saving both time and money in the long run.

Adds to the quality

With the tasks being repetitive in nature, the space for scrap, rework, and human error is significantly reduced. Plus, when properly programmed, the robotics deliver a higher ROI and upgraded quality.

Which Material Handling Robot Is for Your Business?

The size and functions of the robot depend upon two factors – reach and payload. However, since reassignment allows you to capitalize on the investment, it is always prudent to over-specify these details.


While reach can be an issue depending upon the routing and handling belts, some unconventional options can never hurt. No rulebook makes a floor-mounted pedestal mandatory. You can get creative and select a wall or ceiling mount to go with your process as well.


Regarding picking and packing, you must take into consideration the speed and repeatability factors. For instance, in the case of a moving conveyor, swift actions with a sensory vision system could help with productivity and precision.

Big and Small Material Handling

The continuous growth and innovation in software, vision, and gripper technologies have given robotics the power to facilitate material handling at all ends. The machines are now faster and sturdier to handle a significant level of payloads. Big robots operating within work cells can even handle the larger materials. This has been made possible with compact manipulators and prominently shaped grippers.

Some robots can hold and move around 3000 pounds. Automotive companies use them to pick up buses and tractor frames, transferring fully or partially assembled pieces across different lines. The robots pick the structures, flip them over, and set them back onto a carrier for further processing.

On the other hand, for smaller tasks, more intelligent networks are being built within the cell. For instance, all the low payload robots work in sync, finally passing the product to a larger lift assistant to manage the higher load capacity. Plus, smaller robots optimize floor space utilization while also giving a remarkable boost to efficiency.

For fragile parts like electronics and food products, manufacturers are employing one-kg payload delta robots with certified grippers to handle the food appropriately. Similarly, robotic food and biotech handling operations are also on the rise.

Bin Picking

Bin Picking must be one of the most tedious ordeals of material handling. Hence, creating a fully robotic system to handle the process is nothing short of a manufacturing unit’s boon. However, it is a rather complex method and needs the manipulators to act accordingly.

The first step is to deploy three-dimensional scanners, which can guide the grippers for a better hold. The scanner builds an array of light points using a structured pattern to complete the tasks efficiently. It also eliminates the need for sensor heads on a robot.

Additionally, the robots are designed to travel on a rail, speeding up the picking and packaging processes for material handling, distribution, and manufacturing operations.

Automated bin picking is further suitable for the general industry, appliance manufacturing, plastic and metal products, and much more.

The Future of Material Handling

Robotics might be growing slowly in the Industry 4.0 revolution, but it’s building with an upwards line for material handling. With rapidly changing software, faster speeds, and continually improving structures, it shall be the new normal for manufacturing and warehouse units worldwide.

More and more managers now realize how to leverage robotics to increase their demand, production, and efficiency. As a growing area for innovation, it may change material handling as we know it. Warehouses that previously were only used as a distribution are now becoming equipped to also handle order fulfillment due to the uptrend in robotic technology according to Forbes.

Where Johnson Electric Comes In

Our BTA line of solenoids only needs milliseconds to successfully divert a package to its appropriate location with minimal effort and zero downtime. Also, with the silent operation and long life, with over 100 million actuations per solenoid, it is a perfect solution for sorting applications. We also supply a variety of open frame solenoids for the robotics industry.

For more information please contact us.

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