Industry Spotlight: Industrial Automation and Material Handling

Blake Bearden, DB 2006

Blake Beardon, WW 2006

Blake Bearden is a 2006 graduate of Embry-Riddle’s Master of Business Administration in Aviation degree and a former USAF officer. While in the Air Force, he worked as an Acquisitions Officer and was involved in the development of new radar technologies as well as the development of weapon systems to be employed in space force application. Upon finishing up his service in the Air Force, he sought out a career which would not only pique his interest in emerging technologies, but also allow him to employ what he learned from his MBA classes at ERAU in the business world. Blake was given the opportunity to manage operations on the West Coast for Bastian Solutions, a leading system integrator of material handling systems.

Why did you pursue a career in the material handling industry?

Actually I knew very little about the material handling industry prior to beginning work with Bastian. My undergraduate degree in Human Factors Engineering gave me a good working understanding in optimization of the workplace for employees. The material handling career field built upon that foundation and has allowed for me to help other companies continue remaining competitive in their respective industries through use of automation technologies. I truly enjoy seeing our systems helping our customers and making them more productive and efficient in their respective markets. Knowing that we make a difference for so many companies is a very rewarding experience.

How does material handling and facility automation allow companies to be more competitive?

With today’s rapidly evolving global economy, increased competition, and expanding markets, business owners can no longer simply raise prices to improve profitability if they also desire an increased market share. Companies that desire complete success, no matter which industrial sector they may reside, are searching for ways to improve productivity, increase quality, and grow overall profitability by minimizing the cost of producing, storing, or moving their product. These goals create a burning desire for business owners to find every competitive edge possible, many times resulting in automation of their facility. With a career in facility automation, you will assist companies in more productive movement of their product through the application of Conveyor Systems and Robotics. Proper implementation of automation not only reduces labor costs, it also minimizes inefficiencies typically involved where operations are more manually intensive. It also allows companies to provide better service to their customers, shipping orders faster while minimizing order error rates.

What do you like most about your job?

I am very fortunate to work with a great group of people. The friendships and camaraderie that I share with my employees and fellow managers are what I cherish most of all. Aside from that, a career in this industry affords engineers the chance to work in just about every industry in the market. One day I may be helping an aerospace client implement an automated storage and retrieval system used in a highly specialized manufacturing environment while tomorrow I might be helping a clothing retailer or customer involved in food and beverage production with expanding their system. No two days are ever the same!

What advice can you give for students interested in a career in material handling?

Seek an internship with a material handling system integrator and get your feet wet in the industry to see if it’s a good potential fit for you. We hire a lot of industrial and mechanical engineers to design and sell our system, though we have a need for controls engineers, software engineers/programmers, logistics consultants and project managers. If you have a strong desire to make a difference, this is a great industry to become a part of!

More about Bastian:
Bastian Solutions is an independent system integrator dedicated to helping our customers increase their productivity through proven automation, information systems, and sound operating procedures. Bastian has historically been an innovator in the field of material handling and controls, with recent advances including mobile robotics, PC Based Controls, 3-D Human Machine Interfaces and Browser-Based Viewing. Bastian provides innovative solutions for automation including conveyor systems, automated storage systems, robotics, automated guided vehicles and also provides warehouse software solutions such as Warehouse Management Software (WMS) and Warehouse Controls Software (WCS). Learn more about Bastian and available positions for which we are currently hiring.

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