The power of a button
The consumer experience is rapidly changing with the “e-commercification” of everything from your groceries, to your music, to your clothes, to your ride home and even to your next date. This has recently been taken to a new level with the Amazon Dash Button – a brand-specific wifi connected device which is programmed to order new supplies of a product with the press of a button. No credit cards, no order forms, just a tap and then a package of diapers, Goldfish snacks, or UltraPlush toilet paper will be on its way to your home. In case you get tired of pressing a button, Whirlpool is now working on a washer and dryer which will be able to predict when detergent or drying sheets are running low so that it can order the items itself.

“Anytime and Anywhere” is a concept which is shaping business models across the globe. The omnichannel approach is becoming more and more common as companies seek a multi-channel method of sales. Every possible means is utilized in order to provide a seamless shopping experience whether in your mailbox or at the mall.

Crossing the miles to your doorstep
The growing world of on-demand may seem far from the realm of conveyor belts, but in reality, it is nearly impossible to press an order button without setting one in motion. For each product to reach its destination, the Materials Handling industry utilizes hundreds of thousands of kilometers of belting.

Just one example is the UPS Chicago Consolidation Hub (CACH). Sorting an average of 1.3 million parcels per day, it is the largest land transport distribution center in the USA and the largest package sorting facility in the world. Habasit is a strong supplier for the 100 kilometer belting maze laid out over more than a million square meters. In less than fifteen minutes, the average package travels through a complex system of loading, unloading, consolidation, sorting and identification.

Another example is the Adidas Group Distribution Center in Niedersachsen Park, Germany, with a throughput of 100 million items each year. With e-commerce sales having experienced double-digit growth in every country, there has been a tremendous demand for acceleration of shipping and handling.

Prepared for progress
Whether in the booming retail and distribution market, or the quickly expanding Courier-Express-Parcel (CEP) industry, Habasit is well-equipped to meet the requirements of every operation. The multifaceted and mass sorting systems put into place in these processing centers demand speed, strength and mindboggling precision. The journey of one item, sometimes kilometers long, can involve lightweight fabric belts to timing belts to plastic modular belts and chains. Each curve and incline is carefully considered as we assist our clients in mapping the intricate path of each product which is ensured through reliable belt tracking and measured transmission power.

Our one-stop shop policy means that you can buy everything you need from one supplier, drastically reducing costs as well as the complications of logistics. Since we offer a full-range of products, we can provide unbiased advice as we search for a solution. Flame-retardant, durable, antistatic and firm grip are just a few of the factors we consider when selecting a belt that is right for this industry.

Habasit also remains continually aware of our social and ecological responsibility and this can mean dramatic savings for our customers. By reducing the friction of the belt, our new Eff-Line can reduce energy costs by up to 45%. You can imagine the difference this can possibly make for Habasit customers like UPS, FedEx or DHL who have large distribution centers with kilometers of belting running day and night in order to make fast and efficient deliveries.

Intelligent design carefully conveyed
From input, to induction, merging, sorting, identification and output, the industry handling systems are as much about intelligence as engineering. The capability of software to identify and direct a wide variety of products can require years of research and development. In the end, the conveyor belt can only be as concise in its movement as the software that created it, and that is why Habasit is continually pushing the limits of the mechanics of information.

The uberfied life
With nearly all of life’s comforts now just a button away, on-demand has become a lifestyle rather than a luxury, and retailers are rushing to keep pace. New business models are setting fresh precedents for what it means to deliver on-time. Novel start-ups like Uber are becoming the norm as they blur the lines between corporate and consumer giving customers a more direct line to what they want. Having started as a personal taxi system, they are now exploring other forms of transport so that you can send anything from a teddy bear to a piano across town. “With uberCARGO, your goods travel like a VIP”, the website reads. The CEO, Travis Kalanick, reported that the young company was at least doubling their revenue every six months.

Both small and large businesses are looking for ways to ride the trend so that “uberification” has now become the code word for the growing utilization of freelance labor. It is still unclear of what this shift will mean for the conveyor belt industry. Although some would wish for a belting system to be installed between their home and their local grocery store, this is unlikely to be the wave of the future. The history of Habasit is built on imagining new forms of movement in every field and we are excited for a continued transformation whether we roll with press of a button or a new app that conveys you home. (ST)

Luca Grazzini Industry Segment Manager Peter Jan Troost

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