An Engineering Consultant’s View of ProMat
“A kid in a candy store…” That’s what it felt like walking the 900+ exhibits at both the ProMat and Automate 2017 shows in Chicago earlier this month. New automated storage and retrieval systems, shuttle systems, robotics, AGVs, co-robots, sorters--these technologies are ushering in a new era of automation to manufacturers and distributors alike.
All companies have the same challenges; how to do more with less. We are conditioned by Amazon Prime to expect shorter fulfillment cycles; this is forcing companies to invest in automation technologies to shorten lead times and to improve service levels. Old jobs that required extensive manual labor are being automated; people are adapting to work smarter rather than harder. Macro-economic trends such as labor shortages, space constraints, and shortened order fulfillment cycles have only exacerbated the need for automation as a way for companies to reduce costs and to attract new customers.
With these trends in mind, ProMat and Automate offered the perfect platform to see an amazing array of technologies and speak with developers first hand. For any company looking to automate, there were plenty of solutions to review and discuss.
I exited the show exhausted but also super invigorated; getting to see new automation technologies being introduced and learning how companies are applying these technologies to solve their ever-changing challenges is the core of what we do at Bastian Consulting
. We are technology-agnostic, if it’s the right tool for our customer, we will integrate that tool into an overall system.
As supply chain consultants, ProMat and Automate offered us an opportunity to see the best available technologies and talk with developers on specific applications of interest. The phrase, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”, is widely spoken in our consulting business. ProMat and Automate provided a firsthand view of this expanded toolset. By having all the exhibits in one site, we were able to walk customers around the show, giving them exposure to the technologies we have discussed throughout the course of our consulting engagements or to talk about the potential applicability of a technology for their current situation.
ProMat and Automate had recording setting attendance this year, and it was easy to see why. With the hundreds of exhibits as well as the on-floor and off-floor educational sessions, attendees had plenty to see and do. And although anyone involved in the material handling business is currently very busy, it was worth taking the time to explore new trends and technologies.
Moving forward, lead times will only get shorter and consumer expectations will only grow. Investing in automation and building best-in-class operations will not be optional. If you weren’t able to make it to ProMat this year, I would highly recommend visiting MODEX 2018 in Atlanta. You won’t be disappointed.
As I walked the show floor this year, I could tell companies were ready to invest in their future, and with today’s automation landscape, the future looks bright.
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