Highlights from ProMatDX 2021

Posted by Damotech - Rack Safety on April 12, 2021
( Last updated on 18 October, 2021)
Damotech - Rack Safety

ProMatDX is the new digital event experience designed to power up manufacturing and supply chain professionals from over 140 countries. ProMat, powered by MHI, is usually an in-person event that takes place at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois during this time of year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has taken place entirely online for the first time. ProMatDX combines the connections, solution-sourcing, and education that ProMat can deliver with the latest digital technology in a five-day event that includes free registration for all attendees.

Damotech hosted two virtual events: an education seminar on 5 Key Strategies to Improve Rack Safety, and a product demo of our Damotech Platform, also a finalist for the 2021 MHI Innovation Awards in the category of Best IT Innovation. For more details regarding our presence at ProMatDX, click here. Below, we highlight some stand-out events from each day this week:

ProMatDX-2021-logo

Monday's ProMatDX Highlights:

Optimize Workflows with Mobile Robotics (Product Demo)

Sponsored by: Honeywell Intelligrated

1:00 – 1:15 PM CDT

Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are transforming a variety of labor-intensive tasks into efficient automated workflows in e-commerce, retail, manufacturing, and food & beverage operations. They are emerging as a cost-effective solution that require minimal information technology (IT) or infrastructural changes for distribution centers (DCs) looking to automate. AMRs navigate dynamically using a map by finding the quickest and most efficient path to their destination.

Honeywell Intelligrated, in collaboration with Fetch Robotics, demonstrated their new autonomous mobile robot (AMR) that supports cross-docking, returns, and case picking workflows for contactless pallet transport in distributions centers.

Key Features:

  • Deployable on-demand
  • Outfitted with 3D cameras
  • No blind spots, thanks to light detecting and ranging (LiDAR) sensors and onboard dynamic obstacle-avoidance technology

Three Pain Points that their AMRs Solve:

  1. Utilizing Labor Efficiently: eliminating walking, reducing repetitive tasks, and utilizing labor for more value-add operations.
  2. Improving Safety: reduce forklift incidents by having robots tackle long haul travel.
  3. Reducing Space Constraints: robots are flexible and require less space than traditional conveyors.

These AMRs integrate easily with an operation’s existing manufacturing execution system (MES) or warehouse execution system (WES) — including Honeywell Intelligrated’s Momentum WES — to coordinate and optimize pallet movement while eliminating manual errors and wait times. A fleet of AMRs can also be scaled up or down quickly to adapt to changing order volumes, while simultaneously freeing up existing labor to perform more value-added tasks.

The robot fleet management software runs on the cloud, meaning the robots require a stable Wi-Fi connection throughout facility they are being used in. Bandwidth is dependent on the number of users/robots connected to the system at the same time.

A Practical Approach to Modernizing Your Warehouse (Education Seminar)

Sponsored by: Zebra Technologies Corp.

2:30 – 3:00 PM CDT

The growth in e-commerce that we’ve experienced over the last year is revolutionizing the flow of product to the consumer. And in turn, this type of “on-demand” economy is challenging the warehousing industry. In this education seminar, Zebra Technologies Corp. presents a strategic framework for accelerating modernization within your warehouse facility:

Phase 1: Gain basic control of business operations.
Phase 2: Optimize the use of mobility.
Phase 3: Target use of real-time visibility.
Phase 4: Orchestrate widespread use of real-time visibility.
Phase 5: Achieve predictive and adaptive operations.

To help identify which phase your warehouse may be in, consult Zebra Technologies Corp.’s Warehouse Maturity Model. This framework takes into consideration the harmonization that needs to take place between warehouse management systems, automation and worker/workflow optimization. Zebra Technologies Corp. claims that each of these phases help operations and information technology leaders increase the sophistication of their technologies to achieve greater levels of visibility, which they say is the ultimate key to running a fully connected and optimized warehouse operation.

Throughout the seminar, several findings from their internal warehouse study are revealed. For example, they unveil that the majority of warehouse operators agree that worker and team productivity is a high priority on the road to modernization. Solutions such as leveraging task-specific devices and simplifying remote device management are presented as ways to improve team productivity and task accuracy.

The key takeaway is that although most warehouse managers are initially apprehensive about modernizing their operations, according to their internal study, more than 33% of warehouse decision makers will use machine learning and predictive analytics (phase 5 in the above framework) by 2024.

Tuesday's ProMatDX Highlights:

Autonomous Counterbalanced Fork Truck (Product Demo)

Sponsored by: Vecna Robotics

10:30 - 10:45 AM CDT

In this product demo, Vecna Robotics showcased their VRSB3000, the first in their Silverback series of autonomous counterbalanced fork trucks. It was described as a highly versatile, safe, intelligent and integrated pallet-handling solution. This next generation AMR offers vertical lift of up to 72 inches to move a wider range of payloads and pallet types, lift inventory to and from equipment, and seamlessly work alongside other material handling vehicles, as well as human workers.

Specifications:

  • Lift height of 72 inches
  • Max payload: 3000 lbs.
  • Max speed: 4.5 MPH
  • Turning radius 130 inches
  • Battery life: 8 hours (auto-charge option available)

Vecna Robotics is an autonomous mobile robot (AMR) company that helps distribution, warehousing, and manufacturing organizations streamline their material handling and logistics operations. Their robot fleet is backed with 24/7 US-based live support and proactive monitoring for industry-leading 99%+ uptime.

Beyond COVID-19: Building Supply Chain Resilience Is the Key To Recovery and Preparing for Future Disruption (Keynote / Panel Discussion) 

Sponsored by: 6 River Systems, Inc.

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM CDT

Kathy Fulton, Executive Director of American Logistics Aid Network moderated this insightful panel discussion about lessons learned from the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and how industries can adapt their supply chain and logistics operations to meet the demands faced by a new reality.

Fulton was joined by industry leaders, Carmela Hinderhaker, Senior Director of Business Continuity and Customer Support at CS Wholesale Grocers, David Lusk, Director of Global Security Operations Center at FedEx Services and Rick MacDonald, the Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Officer at Clorox. The panel explored how their respective industries successfully navigated the changes incurred over the last year, coming up with new strategies to ensure continuity despite the numerous roadblocks that came about.

The panel discussed how, at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, big changes occurred, requiring fast action and adaptability — especially in response to the ever-evolving government regulations and guidelines around workplace health and safety. Despite coming from diverse industries, some common experiences were shared by all. For example, many businesses were impacted by a change in buying habits, as consumers have been increasingly turning to e-commerce with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in effect. They shared that the most effective way to rise up to the challenge was by adapting their businesses to meet these increased demands, which included adding more staff or shifting their forecasting to accelerate operations.

Overall, the discussion centered on the ways in which the supply chain is here to stay. In order for businesses to remain competitive, structures must be put in place to handle the unexpected — which, if the last year has proven anything — can occur.

Planning Your Rack System – Traditional and E-Commerce (Education Seminar)

Sponsored by: Rack Manufacturers Institute (RMI)

1:30 - 2:00 PM CDT

RMI’s education seminar opened with two main objectives: to explain the most common types of pallet racking in warehouses and to point out that there is no single way to optimize a distribution center (DC) in the face of increasing e-commerce demands.

John Krummell, President of Advance Storage Products, explained the two main rack construction options available today: roll-formed and structural steel. While roll-formed is most economical and easiest to reconfigure, it is also more easily damaged. Structural steel racking is the heavy-duty alternative to roll-formed, but it is more expensive to install. A comparison is also explored between pallet storage selectivity versus storage density. Selective pallet rack provides 100% selectivity to every pallet position, however selective rack requires numerous aisles and has lower storage density.

Pallet racks with greater storage density, like drive-in and drive-through racks, are designed to store pallets two, three, or more deep. These types of racks offer much greater storage density, but with less selectivity. After other pallet rack types including push-back, pallet flow, and hi-rise pallet storage AS/RS were briefly described, the presentation shifted to highlighting various non-automated picking options using carton flow shelving, pick modules and flex cell systems.

Despite rising trends towards warehouse automation, Krummell concluded the seminar by stating that there are many other simpler, non-automated approaches to modernizing your operations by using a blend of the different types of systems mentioned. The key takeaway was that as long as the right combination of systems is used, and a good design partner is consulted, then you will be on the right path to optimizing your distribution center (DC).

Wednesday's ProMatDX Highlights:

Box Smarter with Automated Right-Sized Packaging (Product Demo)

10:30 – 10:45 AM CDT
Sponsored by: Quadient

If you are in shipping, you are aware that one of the costliest aspects of running a warehouse or fulfillment center is the packing and shipping process. Quadient, a leading provider of automated packaging solutions, introduced two if its latest auto-boxing machines in their product demonstration: the CVP Impack and the CVP Everest.

From their manufacturing facility in the Netherlands, the presenter showed both of these machines in action. He prefaced the demo by saying that in normal conditions, these machines would be operating in a warehouse environment. Both machines automatically construct, seal, weigh, and label single or multi-item orders (variable dimensions) of either hard or soft goods in one seamless process. A 3D scanner determines the perfect, right-sized box for each item, thus eliminating the need for void fill material. The CVP Impack packs up to 500 parcels per hour with one operator while the CVP Everest auto-boxes up to 1,100 parcels per hour with two operators.The company also offers technical support by way of cameras installed at various touch points on the machines. This allows service engineers to investigate and offer quick solutions in case of any issues.

The main advantages of using these automated packaging solutions is the cost savings on packaging materials and labor costs, as well as improved customer service thanks to the sheer speed of packaging. The bonus? You can also reduce your carbon footprint as there is less waste in right-sized packaging. While the initial investment needed to own one of these automatic packaging machines was not disclosed in the demo, the presenter did offer a free ROI analysis for any company who is interested. Quadient already has customers successfully using these machines in France, Germany, the U.K., and Denmark.

The key takeaway was that if you want to keep up with the ecommerce boom and increasing numbers of online orders, automating packing is a must to “future-proof” your business.

Storage Rack Safety 101 (Education Seminar)

1:00 – 1:30 PM CDT
Sponsored by: RMI of MHI

Presented by Tom Koontz, P.E., Director of Engineering at Steel King Industries, and Dave Olsen, P.E., National Sales Manager at Ridg-U-Rak, Inc. this seminar covered the importance of taking good care of your racking systems in order to provide a safe warehouse environment for all. Guidelines on how to identify rack damage and prevent it was given, as well as some explanations as to why rack safety and regular inspections are so important.

At the onset of the presentation, photos of racking collapses were shown, followed by common rack damages that can be seen in a warehouse, often caused by a forklift truck. Among them were photos of column damage, brace damage, and base anchor damage.

Olsen took over the second half of the seminar to zero in on rack damage prevention and the importance of carrying out regular rack inspections. He advised rack owners to view their storage racks as a long-term investment that needs to be properly taken care of to ensure their longevity. The question: “When should you inspect your racking?” was also answered with a series of slides showing different scenarios: a) when a new installation is put in place, b) if an existing installation is reconfigured, c) if a rack repair has taken place, or d) if a seismic event has occurred. The importance of having up-to-date Load Application and Rack Configuration (LARC) drawings was also stressed.

What Should You Inspect Your Racking For?

  • Damaged individual components: braces, beams and columns.
  • Deviations from the LARCs
  • Condition of the pallet and the load on the pallet.
  • Correct number of anchors installed.
  • Condition of column baseplate.

The key takeaway from this seminar was that while it is the owner of the storage racks who is ultimately responsible for ensuring they are properly used and maintained, it is also crucial that all employees in a warehouse have an on-going shared responsibility when it comes to rack safety.

Thursday's ProMatDX Highlights:

Women in Supply Chain: Delivering Proven Success Strategies (Keynote / Panel Discussion)

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM CDT
Sponsored by: MHI

In this keynote address, moderated by Sheila Benny, the President of Optricity Corporation, panelists opened up about their experiences as leaders in the supply chain industry, along with some of the highs and lows of their careers both as women and industry leaders.

Megan Smith, CEO of Symbia Logistics, shared her insights on orchestrating success when running a supply chain. She revealed that one of the biggest keys to her success throughout her career was ensuring transparency and honesty throughout the entire chain, not just the internal supply chain but all stakeholders involved, including clients and suppliers. Having a transparent and holistic approach has been a driver of success, as it integrates people, systems and technology at all levels.

As leaders, one common belief all panelists shared is that to continue to improve the efficacy of the supply chain, ensuring employee satisfaction and providing employees with recognition should be a top priority. When asked about the seasonal impacts affecting continuity, Erin Donnelly, Director of Supply Chain Development at The Home Depot, shared how, during the off-season, her team's strategy is automating processes to ensure more streamlined operations come peak season. To Donnelly, employee morale has been a considerable marker of her success.

This view was shared by Chaneta Sullivan, Esq., Director of Safety, Quality & Compliance at Chick-fil-A Supply emphasized how maintaining a personal relationship with her employees and teams is vital in all leadership roles. She maintains that as leaders, it's essential to connect with teams personally and show them who you are and what your values as a person are. Knowing that they are cared for in turn leaves individuals feeling empowered, ready for more success.

Other critical takeaways from the discussion include balancing short-term wins versus long-term wins and how even small victories in the immediate do ultimately contribute to the business' goals down the line. Also, the women shared their own experiences with collaboration. Sometimes, having an extra set of eyes or a collaborative partner can bring extra value to a project. Ensuring you've "mastered your craft," knowing your strengths, and owning up to your weaknesses are all qualities a leader possesses. The keynote discussion wrapped up on an uplifting note, sharing how sometimes bringing together a team of talented, forward-thinking leaders can be the ultimate triumph of leadership.

For more insights from women in the supply chain industry, check out our Q&A with some of Damotech's talented team members who are working hard to close the gender gap in our industry.

Automating Your Indoor/Outdoor Logistics Flows – The TractEasy (Education Seminar)

1:30-2:00 PM CDT
Sponsored by: EasyMile Inc.

As a solution to several challenges that manufacturers and logistics managers are facing today, including high operational costs, labor shortage and safety concerns, EasyMile Inc. provides software and complete solutions for driverless mobility and goods transportation.

With several mass operations around the world, EasyMile Inc. was the first to deploy fully driverless at Level 4 of autonomous driving. It is also the first autonomous vehicle solutions provider to be ISO 9001:2015 certified. ISO 9001 is the international standard for creating a Quality Management Systems (QMS), published by ISO (International Organization for Standardization).

In this seminar, the presenter focused almost entirely on the TractEasy, the first driverless, electric tow tractor enabling autonomous material handling in indoor and outdoor logistics processes.

This tow tractor is capable of towing up to 55 000 lbs with its hitch system and can safety transport goods with a speed of 15 km/h in autonomous mode. Its applications include bringing car parts from a warehouse to the assembly line, transporting cargo and luggage at airports, and supplying packages to the right delivery building within a logistics center. It can operate 24 hours a day, achieving zero-emissions.

The presenter concluded by stating that the outdoor environment is generally a challenge for autonomous vehicles, but that the TractEasy successfully closes the gap between indoor and outdoor spaces. The flexibility brought forth with this electric tow tractor can potentially open new doors for autonomous transport.

Friday's ProMatDX Highlight:

Learn How a Cloud Based WMS Drives Additional ROI & the Future of Fulfillment (Product Demo)

10:00-10:15 AM CDT
Sponsored by: Infor (US), LLC

In this product demo, Infor (US), LLC introduces Infor WMS, an advanced warehouse management system combining core warehouse functionality with labor management, task management, 3PL management, and more. This cloud-based system has a user-friendly interface with advanced features such as 3D visual warehousing and voice processing, allowing warehouse managers to operate multiple facilities, of varying size and complexity. Currently, Infor WMS is used by over 1800 companies around the globe.

Infor is a global leader in cloud software products and combines best-in-class solutions to optimize your end-to-end supply chain and collaborate more effectively with customers, partners, and suppliers.

Their software solutions promise to help you gain greater visibility into your supply chain to:

  • Optimize resources and labor
  • Improve inventory & shipping accuracy
  • Deliver the perfect order
  • Respond faster to customer opportunities and market fluctuations

As we are seeing an explosive growth in warehouse transactions – especially over the last year – the presenter reminds viewers that legacy WMS systems are extremely difficult to modernize. Although a more traditional WMS offers strengths in planning and inventory management, it often requires significant customization. Legacy WMS systems are also too focused on daily, sequential task assignment which simply cannot keep up with the demand for rapid execution of increasingly complicated order fulfillment.

The main takeaway from this product demo is that modern warehousing is about having complete control over all your critical assets and the Infor WMS is a major step in helping warehouse managers achieve this.

Note: All sessions will be available OnDemand again at ProMatDX on April 19.

Topics: Blog, Events, Material Handling Industry, ProMatDX, PoweredbyMHI

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