The process used in making medicines and products such as powdered milk — in which workers hammer on the sides of large bins to unstick the powdery mixture — is getting an upgrade.

Researchers at Purdue University developed technology to help improve the process and reduce the need for the hammering in production. The engineering team created a flow aid that can be placed inside a bin and controlled with Bluetooth.

According to the team leader, the device directly transfers vibration energy to the powders without affecting the structural integrity of the bin. It can monitor powder parameters like temperature, humidity and pressure, which in turn indicate any change in quality.

The device also allows the user to control the vibration intensity and location to provide a consistent powder product.