Global Material Handling System Integrators

Energy Efficiency is King at ProMat 2011


Major trade shows like ProMat are where we, as materials handling professionals, expect to find the latest and greatest in innovative solutions to bring back to our customers.  While attending ProMat last week, I was definitely not disappointed. There were over 700 exhibitors and 80 educational seminars packed into just four days.  Needless to say, there was much to see and do!

Energy EfficiencyConveyor at ProMat

This year's show really seemed to have a common theme--energy efficiency.  Our group saw a number of offerings that utilized quiet 24 Volt DC technology to improve conveyor performance.  This increased use of 24VDC power makes sense; the energy savings garnered by reducing the horsepower requirements (normally provided by AC motors) could be quite significant when used in large industrial conveyor systems. There were also some innovative ideas that utilized friction reduction techniques.  For example, several exhibits showcased single belt conveyor systems that used reduced friction technology.  This allowed the entire system to run using only two motors. Our group also noticed 24VDC power and friction reduction techniques being used in various sortation technologies as well. It was quite apparent that energy efficiency was a top priority to this year's exhibitors and attendees.


Ergonomics was also a common trend at this year's show. While some of these Industrial Robot at ProMattechnologies were standard in their focus on keeping workers safe and efficient, others provided those benefits, while also keeping energy efficiency in mind. For example, one lift we saw safely moved heavy objects throughout the production process, but it was specifically designed to use less energy than the typical heavy duty lift or lift table.

Other Technologies

We definitely saw a lot of great ideas for improving energy efficiency within automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) as well.  The combination of energy-efficient motors and reduced friction materials creates a system that uses less energy than traditional ASRS and a surprisingly lower amount of energy than many manually-run facilities as well.  The use of more energy-efficient components definitely provided an interesting twist on the typical ASRS concept. Furthermore, we were able to see the many different ways in which energy efficiency is being used to improve industrial robotics.  Robots can be used in many ways to increase accuracy and reliability within the picking, packing, palletizing, and shipping processes. However, in general, industrial robots can be an expensive solution.  With the improvements in power usage and efficiency, the lifetime cost of industrial robotics can be reduced, thus making them a more viable solution for many companies previously detracted by the initial cost. Overall, my first ProMat experience was very enjoyable.  I was able to see a lot of new and interesting technologies as well as some standard equipment being used in innovative ways. If you were unable to attend ProMat 2011, I truly hope you were able to speak with someone who did attend and share in his or her experiences! Did you attend ProMat 2011?  What was your biggest takeaway from the show?  Let me know by leaving your comments below.  Thanks!

Author: Ryan Bliss


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