Moiz Neemuchwala leads Rite-Hite’s Digital Solutions business unit and is experienced in marketing and developing smart systems using IoT, analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning for applications in industrial automation. Before joining Rite-Hite, he worked for Stanley Black and Decker and Rockwell Automation. He holds an MBA from University of Chicago and an M.S. in electrical engineering from Case Western Reserve University.
Q: What drew you to Rite-Hite and material handling/logistics after having worked in engineering and tech for Rockwell and Stanley Black & Decker?
A: The supply chain logistics/material handling industry is rapidly evolving and to keep up with market forces, is primed to embrace new technologies like IoT, AI, and smart equipment. Customer expectations are evolving as dashboards, insights, and smart capabilities start becoming the norm. The want to have a 360-degree view of their operations, and predicting mishaps before they happen is the need of the hour. Rite-Hite, whose motto is “Always Looking Ahead,” is a company that has traditionally been at the forefront of industrial equipment innovation and is now adding technology to that focus. It is a perfect place for an innovator and technologist like me to have the freedom and directive to develop paradigm-changing new products and systems.
Q: How do you view the current state of the material handling market?
A: The current state is stable but growing, due to a strong construction market, new and pent-up consumer demand, and the continued growth of e-commerce. The industry will need to evolve and improve to meet this ongoing demand, so incorporating technology, automation, and intelligence within an industrial environment is the natural next step. Rite-Hite launched a new Digital Solutions business unit several years ago to address this growing need. Making equipment “smart” to enable the collection and analysis of data for improvements in safety, productivity, and energy use is a huge focus of ours. We are also hard at work identifying pain points for our customers so we can develop new ways to help them be successful.
Q: With the need to keep our trucks on the road with the many supply chain delays, how do your company’s products help in turning trucks quickly at the docks?
A: One of the biggest things we’re doing is to help distribution centers become more efficient through paperless communications. In a traditional facility, carrier schedules and notes were commonly kept on spreadsheets and/or on paper. Delays and confusion are common results of these processes. Add in radio chatter going all day long across multiple channels, and we know that communications can get garbled. In this chaotic environment, it is easy for mistakes like double-bookings to occur—leading to delays for the carrier, and detention and demurrage charges for the distribution center.
Our Dok-Vu software streamlines all of this. It consolidates those spreadsheets into a single platform so multiple people can log in simultaneously and enter information in real time, without duplicates or getting “locked from editing.” This information is not only visible in the control room, but also on the dock and in the yard. Through real-time dashboards, everyone can see which docks are open, which have loading/unloading going on, how long that loading/unloading has taken, and when it must be finished.
Q: In what ways are sensors and IoT technologies impacting the design of your systems?
A: In today’s hypercompetitive logistics landscape, insights that lead to operational efficiencies are incredibly important. Many of those insights come from data that we capture through sensors in smart equipment and analyze through IoT. From a design standpoint, sensors are everywhere. In many cases, this is for safety purposes, so we can alert workers to potential dangers they might not be aware of.
But beyond that, whenever we look at a piece of equipment, we are thinking about the data that it can capture, what that data can tell management, how that piece of equipment integrates with other equipment around it, and how that integrated system should work from a holistic standpoint. This includes ease-of-use and ergonomics for employees, cost efficiency, and, of course, safety. Currently, we make smart dock controls, smart door controls, smart fan controls, and smart safety warning systems … all of which can feed into our IoT platform. I have no doubt that this list will expand in the future.
Q: What suggestions might you give to an engineer looking to work in the material handling design field?
A: While supply chain logistics and warehouse/DC management may not have been seen as bastions of high technology in the past, that is rapidly changing. Driven by factors like market demand, e-commerce, and health and safety protocols, this industry is becoming technologically advanced at an incredible rate, and the opportunity for engineers with experience in IoT, AI, and other related disciplines is huge. Supply chain logistics is a field that will only grow in future decades, so if you want to bring your expertise here, it will almost certainly pay off in the long run.