ProMat 2017 “Must-See” Technologies (at least for me)

The ProMat show will begin in less than two weeks. I thoroughly enjoyed the show two years ago and personally believe it is (still?) a more comprehensive trade show than its Atlanta-based twin, Modex. I have spent a good amount of time over the last week setting up interviews and otherwise planning my time for ProMat 2017. Those of you that have attended the show in the past will understand how easy it is to be overwhelmed without some sort of a schedule in place. I would like to take this opportunity to lay out what I consider to be my list of the “must-see” technologies for ProMat 2017.

  • Last year at MODEX I noted that autonomous mobile robotics (AMR) had moved from the concept phase to commercial availability and practical consideration. In particular, I mentioned Fetch Robotics and Locus Robotics. I felt those two solutions were practical, adaptable, and appeared to be financially feasible options for enhancing manual warehouse operations with flexible automation. This year I plan to meet with both exhibitors and find out what progress has been made with reference able customers. The concept has been proven, now it is time to learn about the practical applications of the robotics solutions, how they are being utilized in commercial settings, and how the value is being delivered (the specific sources of ROI).
  • Also from my review of MODEX, I mentioned Knapp’s YLOG shuttle and its flexibility, in particular its ability to pivot 90 degrees and run on the perpendicular axis. More recently, I noted that the YLOG shuttle’s flexible power system allows freedom of movement and it swiveling wheels facilitate the 90 degree turns that make the 3D movement possible. Similarly, I discussed Vanderlande’s Adapto shuttle and its ability to also move 3 dimensionally. However, its system utilizes a retractable set of wheels to facilitate the Z-axis movement. I plan to speak with executives from both companies to obtain a better understanding of these systems’ capabilities and the ideal load and throughput profiles for their usage.
  • I consider payload delivery from picking stations to packing, etc. to be the most technologically and financially feasible application of AMR in the warehouse. However, small item picking is also an area that is viewed as potentially feasible for automation by robotics. I plan to meet with Righthand Robotics to learn more about the innovative progress they are making in the area of robotic picking for e-commerce order fulfillment.
  • In the area of warehouse software solutions, I plan to take a deeper dive into Manhattan Associates’ new order streaming capability that provides a more flexible alternative to traditional waving. I also plan to see what warehouse automation companies are doing to expand the capabilities of their WCS solutions into more holistic warehouse execution (WES) or industrial internet of things (IIoT) solutions. In particular, I am interested in learning more about what Dematic is doing with the IP it obtained from the Reddwerks acquisition and I also plan to learn more about the new SensorThink platform that is going to be demonstrated at the Tompkin’s booth.

Please let me know if you think I missed an exciting and innovative technology that is being exhibited at ProMat this year. I look forward to informing you of my learnings from the show, come April.