Carter Intralogistics' Top 5 Takeaways from ProMatDX
ProMatDX’s live portion ended Friday, April 19th. Carter was thrilled with how MHI provided attendees and exhibitors with training and tools to make the most of the digital trade show experience. It is undeniable that MHI’s lineup of speakers and sessions was as top notch. Here are Carter Intralogistics’ Top 5 Takeaways from ProMatDX:
1. The Show’s Not Over!
The most important thing to know about ProMatDX is that it is not over yet. While the live part of the show is complete, all content is available on-demand for one month. This means you are still able to access on-demand recordings of educational sessions (including keynotes), exhibitor showcases and their product demos via dx.promatshow.com.
This includes Carter Intralogistics! If you did not get a chance to drop by last week, here are some helpful links to catch up on what we brought to the show:
2. “Resiliency” is the New Must-have
Tuesday’s Keynote was “Beyond COVID-19: Building Supply Chain Resilience Is the Key to Recovery and Preparing for Future Disruption.” If you have not seen it yet, watch it as soon as you can. During the session, American Logistics Aid Network’s Kathy Fulton moderated a panel of experts that analyzed and responded to questions about what supply chain and logistics operations learned from the pandemic. The keynote hammered home the idea of “resiliency” in supply chains, specifically how long-term resiliency is the key to adapting and recovering from future disruptions and disasters.
The panelists included representatives from Clorox, C&S Wholesale Grocers and FedEx. These companies are all major industry players who had massive roles to play in combatting the “insanity” caused by COVID-19. Their insight and discussion into what each of their supply chains went through during 2020 included many frontline stories. These stories helped draw a connection between discussions in the boardroom and what happened on the ground. Those powerful stories combined with advice on preparing supply chains for future disruption landed this session at the top of our ProMatDX must-see list.
3. Labor Scarcity is Still a Major Issue
If you were following Carter back in March 2020 and visited our MODEX 2020 booth, you will remember solving the Labor Crisis was our primary focus. As 2020 progressed, labor scarcity took a back seat to flexibility. Everyone was reacting to the disruption caused by the pandemic. According to the MHI Annual Industry Report Innovation Driven Resilience, supply chains and logistic operations are once again placing Labor Scarcity and hiring issues as the number one challenge.
COVID-19 exposed massive flaws in the way the material handling world thinks about supply chains. Suppliers and end-users alike began prioritizing flexibility with equipment, layouts, locations, and distribution channels. Innovative solutions were needed to ensure that supply chains stayed effective despite sharp increases in demand. The experts at Carter Intralogistics see this drive for flexibility shifting from efficiency to the labor problem. As an industry, we thought outside the box to solve problems and continued delivering critical goods and services to the world… why can’t we think outside the box in how we keep supply chains staffed? The answer is we can, and we will. There is a plethora of recent technologies hitting the market that addresses this problem: ASRS, AGVs, automated palletizing, robotics, pick to light and more. Once the dust settles from COVID-19, we expect to see an uptick in companies investing in automation and other solutions that help combat the perennial labor issues facing the material handling industry.
4. When it Comes to Robotics: Software > Hardware
Robotics and the future of material handling are all but synonymous. All industry trends point toward growth in robotics as a defining feature of the next decade in material handling. As such, robots draw a lot of attention at shows like ProMatDX. Our biggest robotics takeaway: Software is rapidly outpacing hardware in the world of robotics. This may not come as a surprise to people who work day-in and day-out with AI and robotics, but most end users have not spent time considering that the machine is only as good as the brain running it.
Many “robotics” companies have begun to reposition themselves as purely software companies. These companies then focus on “convergence,” or the ability for multiple systems to communicate with each other and work efficiently together. Instead of focusing on a point product, they are designing software systems as holistic solutions that can manage AS/RS, automated palletizers and depalletizers, labeling systems, sortation systems, autonomous mobile robots and more under one user interface and software system. This trend will lead to faster lead times for robotic solutions (think weeks instead of months) and companies being able to branch into automation more easily.
5. Micro-fulfillment Shows No Signs of Slowing Down
As mentioned before, the pandemic exposed many holes in the material handling industry and forced companies and industries to react quickly to changing demands. One such product of this pressure is the rise of micro-fulfillment. Micro-fulfillment is the idea of fulfilling online orders either for at-home delivery or in-store pick-up via a highly automated system. These systems are being designed to improve delivery time frames and decrease travel distances between the customer and distribution center.
The driving force for these Micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) is bifold. First, customer demand is escalating due to lockdowns and other safety measures introduced during the pandemic. Because of these customers were driven to buy-online, pick-up in-store or receive home delivery for retail goods they would never have tried without the pandemic. Even if most of those first-time online customers go back to their usual in-store tendencies, some will remain online and as such, companies need to be prepared by increasing their MFC efficiency.
Second, customers are demanding faster and better service with each passing month. For instance, when was the last time you paid shipping for something less than $30 or $40? The answer is not in a while because as a new age e-commerce customer, you can get the same product with free shipping from somewhere else. This trend towards micro-fulfillment is going to help companies from all retail sectors secure their e-commerce presence and prepare for the burden of tight turnaround times and increasing customer demands.
Carter Intralogistics is here to help.
Carter Intralogistics has the experience and resources necessary to help you build resilience in your supply chain and prepare to transition out of the pandemic. If you’re interested in making changes to your supply chain or logistics operation, Carter can help you find the right solution for your unique problem. Please reach out to Joel Thomas at at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 240-818-1835 for more details.