7 Automotive Innovations for Tough Materials Handling Conditions

18th September 2018

The materials handling requirements of the industry are changing, and new innovations are meeting these challenges head on

The automotive industry’s always been at the cutting edge of innovation, from the moment the very first Ford Model T rolled off the line.

But the materials handling requirements of the industry are changing. They’re becoming tougher, more demanding. So it should come as no surprise that the sector is yet again looking for new innovations to reduce downtime, increase efficiency, and meet the needs of an increasingly demanding marketplace.

These 7 innovations are set to revolutionise materials handling in the automotive sector:


In 1961, General Motors brought Unimate online, and the automotive industry could boast that it was the first sector to embrace industrial robotics.

Now, in 2018, the automotive industry continues to find real-world applications for newer generations of robots. Automated materials handling is set to grow another 8% as demand for automotive robots grows throughout the world.

The first factory robot may have been from New Jersey, but companies around the world are now using automated production lines to streamline their materials handling processes.

Automated Handling Systems

It could seem odd that the automotive industry would embrace driverless systems. After all the end product of the automotive industry is to produce vehicles to be driven.

But driverless forklifts have proven their value in other industries, and are now set to increase efficiency and reduce operator-caused downtime throughout the sector.

Currently, an operator-driven truck is idle 40-50% of the time, whereas a driverless vehicle will carry on as long as there is work to be done.

After all – there’s no reason for an automated forklift to sit around discussing last night’s game.


If you’re imagining tiny electronic helicopters carrying small items around your warehouse, think again.

Drone technology is now able to handle the heavy lifting, as companies such as Mercedes Benz put drone innovations to work in automated delivery vehicles.

By linking up with the automated handling systems discussed above, automated delivery vehicles will load and unload packages and materials directly, reducing valuable time which an operator can spend on other, more pressing tasks.

The Internet of Things

From smart watches to wireless kettles, the Internet has become a key component of any item you care to name.

Nowhere is this more true than within the automotive industry. By sharing information instantly, the Internet of Things is reducing downtime across a range of automotive materials handling tasks.

The Internet of Things is particularly useful when it comes to managing material inventory. By tracking stock levels in real time and presenting workers with live item locations, online connectivity is leading to a smoother, more streamlined workplace.

Sustainable Energy

In January alone, electric car sales rose 59% in the US. The automotive industry is being asked for sustainable vehicles, and meeting this demand will also involve demonstrating sustainable manufacturing and materials handling practices to today’s consumers.

A move towards electric or hybrid forklifts shows customers that you’re taking their requirements seriously. But perhaps more importantly, the use of sustainable energy in your warehouse will keep your energy and fuel bills down, leading to higher profit margins.

It really is a win-win.

Mobile Technology

All of these technological developments may seem like they demand a range of complex interfaces and controls, but it’s highly likely you have everything you need to make use of the latest innovations sitting right in your pocket.

Developers have adopted a “mobile first” approach to design, giving warehouse personnel access to data and control interfaces from their smartphone handsets.

Managers can track performance around the clock, workers can navigate warehouses using mobile applications, and wearable mobile technology is also beginning to have an impact.

One of the key ways mobile technology can be incorporated into the automotive industry brings us neatly to our next point.


Simply put, if you know how your fleet is operating at any moment, you have an edge. Telematics and remote data monitoring provide you with instant, real-time access on where each part of your fleet is and what it is currently doing.

Telematic functions such as wireless asset management systems are providing fleet managers across the automotive industry with up-to-the-second data, allowing for improved safety, a smaller carbon footprint and reduced materials handling costs.

And because data monitoring is done remotely, this information can be provided without need for site visits.

By embracing innovation, making use of the latest developments in everything from robotic materials handling to intuitive mobile-controlled data analysis, the automotive industry will meet its oncoming challenges head on.

Are you ready to integrate these new innovations into your working processes?


  • Innovative new technologies are helping the automotive materials handling industry to streamline processes and increase efficiency.
  • Automated and driverless vehicles are reducing both fleet downtime and the workloads of warehouse staff.
  • Because developers are adopting a mobile-first approach, many new systems and technologies can be controlled from a smartphone.
  • Knowledge is power, and the Internet of Things gives warehouse managers all the information they need at the tap of a screen.
  • Electric and hybrid vehicles are key to meeting the needs of a customer base which places great value on sustainability.

See how new innovations will turn tough operations into a Sunday drive. Download: “Materials Handling Solutions that Shift the Gear in the Automotive Industry: Tough Operations


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