2012 World Ag Expo, Material Handling Automation, and Helping our Veterans

Written By: Blake Bearden

material handling automation in agricultureRecently, I attended the World Ag Expo at the International Agri-Center in Tulare, California. It is the largest trade show of farm and agricultural equipment and associated products in the world, and because it is held outdoors, very large equipment can be brought in for attendees to view–from tractors nearly two stories tall, to the smallest of nozzles used in irrigation.

So Much to See and Do

As is typical for this show, there were numerous how-to exhibits and demonstrations of various products. In fact, this event is so big and has so much to see that one could spend a couple of weeks meeting with everyone and seeing all the exhibits, but unfortunately, attendees only have three days to see it all. So with that in mind, and all the new technology that is out there, it is well worth attending every year!

Because of the great amount of water and energy needed in an agricultural operation, companies from these sectors were also well represented at the show. Utility companies (such as Pacific Gas & Electric) as well as companies that supply irrigation equipment, solar panels, water treatment services, industrial batteries, and filtration equipment–all the products and services used to improve efficiency and environmental compliance in agriculture–were prevalent.

The material handling technology at the show was also fantastic! There were some great views of large sortation equipment and specialty handling equipment for packaging as well as energy-efficient forklifts and numerous logistics firms that hauled agricultural products and waste. Of course there were also several companies who dealt in parts and repairs of agricultural equipment, in addition to numerous service companies focused on dairy management (a huge industry in and of itself, especially in California). The moving and separation of liquids was a key highlight as well, and the management of material–from the time it enters the agricultural enterprise until its processing and departure–was an overriding theme.

Supporting our Military Veterans

This year was also unique in that a very special event took place to help veterans, especially those returning from fighting for us in Iraq and Afghanistan during the last two decades. The Ag Warriors Gala was held during the show and included entertainment by the 82nd Airborne Division’s All American Chorus and a keynote address from former President of the United States, George W. Bush.

Ag Warriors is an organization committed to train and place veterans with both an interest and an aptitude for the agriculture industry. The program identifies with the challenges of recently returned veterans who face difficulties starting new careers as the agricultural community is well suited to provide jobs to many returning soldiers.

Unfortunately, many of those who might otherwise excel in this industry lack the requisite training, certification, familiarity, or access to initiate such a career. Because of that need, the Ag Warriors organization (through the help of local institutions such as California State University in Fresno, the College of the Sequoias, and other industry sponsors) supports returning veterans with an interest in securing jobs in the agricultural industry.

The program is an in-residence course that includes class work, field work, exam preparation and testing, mentorship, and internships all designed to expose returning veterans to the broader aspects of the agriculture industry and help them gain access to rewarding agriculture careers.

The Gala was successful in raising awareness and needed support for this cause, and it was nice to see what the agriculture industry is doing for our veterans. Hopefully other industries take note of this event and find ways to offer their own kind of support.

A Successful Show

Overall, the 2012 Ag Expo was great, and I would recommend it to anyone whether they’re in the agricultural, material handling, or other industry. It was interesting and enjoyable to meet with fellow attendees and exhibitors alike.

The agriculture and food handling businesses are big industries for material handling suppliers just by the nature of what they do every day with their products, but now, automation with material handling is becoming more important as global demand keeps rising and everyone wants to be more efficient.

I definitely enjoyed my time at the show this year, and it gave me a lot of ideas for future projects.

I am the Regional Manager for the Western US and oversee business operations for California, Nevada, Hawaii, Washington and Arizona. I enjoy working with our customers to learn more about their operations and help them solve problems.

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