ProMat 2019, held at McCormick Place in Chicago, enjoyed a record-breaking 45,000 attendees on its first day. National Account Executives from Carlton were on the scene to meet with both current and potential customers in the warehousing, manufacturing, and T&L industries. Here’s what we learned at ProMat 2019, as well as some of the key highlights.
ProMat 2019: What We Learned
With an estimated 1,000 exhibitors on over 420,000 square feet of show floor, ProMat has evolved into a must-attend event for vendors and organizations alike. The resounding theme? Aggressive adoption of robotics, automation, and data capture technology will be the key to remaining competitive in the next several years.
1. Future-Ready Automation Dramatically Lowers Picking Costs
Custom automation systems in warehouses have revolutionized the work environment for decades. But as consumer demands change (read: become more demanding), many suppliers find their custom systems to be outdated sooner than expected. Swisslog hopes to change that.
“Picking is one of the most time- and cost-intensive processes in internal logistics, [accounting] for nearly 50 percent of all logistics costs in industrial and commercial logistics and distribution centers,” said Markus Schmidt, President, Swisslog Logistics Automation, Americas.
Future-ready automated robots can pick up to 1,000 items an hour. Equipped with a 3D camera and image recognition software, the robots can identify the best way to grip and pick items of all shapes and sizes. Flexible automation that can be scaled will dramatically lower picking costs.
2. Improvements for the Human Workforce Keep Coming
While it’s fun to see all the shiny new gadgets, the human workforce is also getting some upgrades.
Demos of augmented reality at NRF 2019 felt a little premature and almost like a novelty, at least in retail shopping applications. But for training the modern supply chain associate, virtual reality training is a great way to provide a foolproof, safer training environment. How? Software can recreate entire facilities with digital models. Workers can then be trained with the assistance of AR technology.
Another safety enhancement came from Space Guard: patent-pending gripper brackets. An installer fifty feet above the warehouse floor can easily and safely install protective brackets to rack shelves without threading nuts and bolts.
3. Data Capture & Predictive Analytics Illustrate the Global Value Chain
IoT, or the Internet of Things, is often oversimplified without a clear picture of the opportunities it presents for the business sector. But this technology is what allows us to track the exact movements of a package down to the millisecond. Being able to see the flow of the entire supply chain in real time has made operational decision-making smarter than ever.
While analyzing supply chain data to identify inefficiencies is nothing new, the delay is much shorter thanks to data capture innovation. Our strategic partners Datalogic and Honeywell had a major presence at ProMat 2019, demonstrating the best of today and tomorrow’s AIDC hardware.
Predicting a bottleneck a week before it happens marks a profound evolutionary change in the way we do business. Better yet, we are able to uncover KPIs we didn’t know existed. Take the loading dock, for example. How often are restraints are being used, how often are doors left open, how long are trucks sitting at the dock? The iDock software allows many of these data blind spots of the past to be traced.
4. The Simple, Hard Truth: Invest Now, or Fall Behind
One thing is extremely clear after attending ProMat 2019: companies need to invest in technology innovation now, or risk falling way behind the competition.
At Carlton, we make mobile computers, barcode scanners, printers, and complex material-tracking hardware work better. After 20 years of service, you learn a few things data capture. When you’re ready to have a discussion about to stay ahead of the curve with technology, please don’t hesitate to reach out.