MODEX 2014 Full Review and Comment
I am just back from a week in Atlanta, two days at the MODEX trade show in Atlanta, followed by another two days at the Logility software Connections user conference . Both were very interesting. Here I will report on MODEX. More on the Logility event next week.
MODEX is a new show from MHI (Material Handling Institute) first launched in 2012. It will run every other year, rotating with the long established ProMat event that runs in odd numbered years in Chicago.
Our materials handling editor Cliff Holste and our Supply Chain Television Channel's Jim Stephens joined me at the World Congress Center in Atlanta, and as usual thousands of you have viewed our day 1 and 2 video reviews of key themes and interesting new solutions, including actual clips of most of these solutions. Thank you. You can view those videos here: MODEX Day 1 and Day 2. Next week, we will break out each new solution into individual videos so you can more easily review just what may be of most interest.
"With regards to "goods to person," for example, there are quite a few "shuttle" based deployments versus a relative few to date in North America."
WHAT DO YOU SAY?
Send us your
The show was much larger this year than in 2012, covering about 200,000 square feet of floor space, versus 145,000 or so in 2012. That's about a 33% rise - quite impressive. I did not get officials attendance numbers, but the crowds were clearly strong, so this was a real winner for MHI.
When launched in 2012, MHI also had the goal of making this more of a full supply chain show than just materials handling and logistics/WMS software. That in my view was really not much achieved in 2012, but progress in that direction was clearly made this year. While materials handling (equipment and consultants) and core logistics software still of course dominated the floor, there was in fact a broader spectrum of exhibitors this year covering various aspects of the supply chain. Two that I had nice conversations with, for example, included a new ocean container rate benchmark service and the blimp guys - more on that one in just a bit.
Cliff and I, however, believed that the two key themes in terms of solutions out at the event were both materials handling related and continuations of trends we have seen in the last few years: (1) a variety of "goods to picker" technologies, especially with a view to powering efulfillment; and (2) automated case pick and related mixed-SKU palletization technologies. There is a lot out there in both areas to look at and choose from in terms of the numbers vendors and technology approaches.
At present, Europe as a whole is much further ahead in deployment of such advanced automation than is the US. With regards to "goods to person," for example, there are quite a few "shuttle" based deployments in Europe from vendors like Dematic, TGW and others, versus a relative few to date in North America. With regards to automated case picking, the focus area remains overwhelmingly the beverage sector, with more general food and consumer packaged goods companies waiting to see how things develop there.
Both these technology areas are advancing nicely in terms of sophistication and proof points.
In more general news, in what we believe to be an exclusive, a senior manager at Kiva Systems confirmed to SCDigest that despite having a large booth at the show featuring its iconic orange robots that might be said to have started the "goods to picker" era, it was not going to be selling the system to anyone other than now parent company Amazon any time soon.
Some, including me, wondered what was up when it became clear Amazon/Kiva would have a booth space at the MODEX show, but it turns out the Kiva robots were really just there as attention grabbers for Amazon's goal of recruiting managers and supervisors for the massive build out of fulfillment centers that continues on for the on-line giant.
And that build it is why, after a review not long ago, Amazon will not still sell the Kiva technology to others. Kiva is simply consumed in terms of manufacturing and deployment resources to keep up with Amazon's FC roll out - there is just no capacity for anyone else. And this work is only for new FCs in North America - it doesn't even include international DCs or potentially retrofitting existing FCs.