Promat 2017 has come and gone. Over 40,000 people attended with over 900 exhibitors showcasing new technologies. We got a chance to listen to some of the keynotes, visit other exhibitors and attend several interesting educational sessions. Here is what we learned:
Day 1 Keynote: Session on sustainable solutions lead by author Andrew Winston, with other executives discussing how to build a sustainable supply chain and use it for competitive advantage.
Day 2 Keynote: Given by Markus Lorenz, partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group on Smart Machines said, “The new breed of intelligent machines that are core to Industry 4.0 will eliminate waste in supply chains and enable new business models, but industry also needs to think about how smart machines will disrupt jobs.” Industry 4.0 is the next industrial evolution that merges the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart, connected devices, allowing businesses to weight containers as they are loaded or manage maintenance by knowing when the next machinery service is due.
Day 3 Keynote: NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson told the crowd that it is more important to over-deliver to customers than to create business strategies, which are also important. But, he said it is more important to always think of your customers first, which will lead to customer loyalty. He also stressed that every business should routinely evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
We showcased new order picking products and prototypes in our Promat booth, including:
- Our new Flow Cell “cantilever cart,” featuring cantilever beams and handlebar. This cart is designed to make transporting awkward, bulky material through your facility fast and easy- without the need for a fork truck or other powered solutions.
- A newly re-designed Pick-Plank prototype. This solution sits in a wire deck position in pallet rack and allows order pickers to slide the rear of the device forward easily. This helps pickers improve the ergonomics of their picks, keeps the needed product at the point of pick, and helps to maximize storage density.
- A new guardrail prototype for Span-Track wheel bed. This guardrail drops and locks right on to the hex hub wheels, allowing users to create dedicated lanes while retaining the flexibility Span-Track wheel beds provide.
- A prototype AGV cart. This solution utilizes our modular Flow Cell structures for automated transport with a tunneling AGV. This solution brings dynamic storage to facilities where AGVs make their automated rounds, and is designed to handle up to 4,000 pounds of material.
Other things we saw that were of big interest at Promat included:
- Virtual reality, used for training exercises, such as training operators on driving new forklifts.
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning to generate the shortest paths for forklifts or other equipment to speed fulfillment rates.
- Visual camera and depth sensor that captures load density, trailer fullness, number of packages, etc. to improve trailer loading quality at the loading dock.
- A “box factory in a box” that makes any size box on demand within 12 seconds.
- Lots of robotic applications, including one with a gripper hand for picking small objects, another that served ice cream cones and another that juggled balls.
- WCS, WMS and WES software updates that add mobility and analytics.
Our very own VP of Operations, Howard McIlvaine, worked the show as a volunteer student guide through a program sponsored by MHEDA and MHI. Howard led a group of students from college, high school, and vocational schools on a guided tour of the show, highlighting the new technologies and trends shaping the supply chain and logistics industries. This was Howard’s second year leading such a group.