Manufacturing Outlook for March 2021

Page 16


ProMatDX: Virtually Essential For nearly two decades my team has been attending and covering ProMat, the leading material handling event in the USA. As a member of the press the mindset is simple: • What is new? • What are the groundbreaking demonstrable innovations? • What trends can be identified? • What companies and leaders are the future superstars of the sector? Nothing illustrates “what is new” more than the fact that ProMat this year is ProMatDX, a digital (virtual) experience. As media we will miss the face-to-face opportunities to meet, interview, and explore in person exhibits and displays.

Material Handling: Blurred Lines The lines between manufacturers, distributors, and 3PLs continue to blur in 2021. Chain of custody, perfect picks, and rapid delivery are driving a series of automation and production solutions. One exhibitor, Picavi, is the pick-by-vision leader. They attended previous MHI events, but their role in replacing pick-to-light and voice-picking has been highlighted dramatically during COVID. Pick-to-light is a lightbar touched by many pickers and is neither sanitary nor compliant with CDC suggestions. Similarly, voice-pickers must use equipment that is difficult to clean and potentially full of COVID contamination. The pick-by-vision solution offered by Picavi is simple to keep sanitary and is disinfected before and after each shift. Pick-by-vision is taking significant market share from the other picking methods and widely adopted in high volume SKU DCs (distribution centers) as well as kitting assembly on manufacturing plant floors.

That does not, however, deter us from considering what innovations (many due to the pandemic) have occurred during the past year (when the sister show, MODEX in Atlanta, took place). This year the presentations, educational seminars, and content are a blend of the “usual faces” (albeit online) and some products that are a direct response to the trends that have grown out of the COVID situation. With 70% of groceries ordered online during the past year the role of distribution centers, warehouses, FMCG (fast moving consumer goods), quality and safety, are at the forefront of all manufacturing, 3PL, logistics, and material handling considerations. The ability to keep essential workers safe, deferring to robotic solutions to maintain social distancing, and heightened efficiency demands are reasons that ProMatDX is virtually essential.


Manufacturing Outlook / February 2021

Another innovation, perhaps one of the most important at ProMatDX, is in process charging by Wiferion. Last month’s issue of Manufacturing Outlook profiled this technology.