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Supply Chain News: Best of ProMat 2017 Day 1 - Individual Clips


SCDigest Editor Dan Gilmore and Materials Handling Editor Cliff Holste with Individual Reviews of Top New Solutions they Discovered on Day 1 in Chicago

April 10, 2017
SCDigest Editorial Staff

No one covers ProMat 2017 like Supply Chain Digest.

Last week, we launched our Video Review and Comment for Day 1 and Day 2 of the show.

Supply Chain Digest Says...

We have some questions - is inventory by location still that bad here in 2017?

What do you say?

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Then later in the week, SCDigest editor Dan Gilmore dedicated his First Thoughts column to an overall review of the show, including a focus on just how much ecommerce is impacting materials handling systems and the supply chain. (See Trip Report: ProMat 2017.)


The daily video reviews last about 15 minutes, and may feature new solutions not of interest to all SCDigest readers


So, as we have done in the past, here we break out those longer videos into individual segments, enabling readers to browse and view just the clips that are of most interest to them.


We'll start with Gilmore and Materials Handling Editor Holste discussing overall trends and themes they picked up during the first day of the show.


Gilmore and Holste on Day 1
ProMat Themes and Trends


Next, software firm Softeon continued its streak of offering innovative new solutions at this show, with an integrated order fulfillment system for "eaches" picking and packing.


That system involves Softeon's WMS, which can directly control a variety of sub-systems, such as Voice, "put walls," pick carts and more, eliminating the need for any other third party software. That means the system can operate more dynamically to what is happening on the DC  floor, and supports use of off the shelf hardware and lights, reducing those cost by as much as 70%.


Very cool - have a look.


Softeon's Integrated Piece Picking and Packing Order Fulfillment System




A company called Engineering Innovation was showing a new parcel sortation system. What set this system apart was its modularity and flexibility - different components can be easily added or removed to do exactly what a given company needs it to do. Also uses interesting sorting technology at the end of the system that Holste had not seen before.


Flexible Parcel Sortation System from Engineering Innovation



Consulting firm Tompkins International is jumping into the systems business in a big way, becoming the sole North America distributor for a new robotic sortation system. Small AGVs move to humans, who place an item on a tray atop the robot. The robots then travel to any one of a number of chutes, tilting to dispense the item to packers down below. Claim is that this system is much less expensive than a traditional tilt tray sorter, and more flexible.


We have some questions, but it is an intriguing concept for sure.


Robotic Sortation System from Tompkins International



(See More Below)




Apex Supply Chain Technologies has an interesting solution to a problem that has long vexed distribution center managers - how to efficiently control and manage dozens or perhaps hundreds of mobile devices, such as  RF terminals and Voice devices.


The Apex system works like a smart vending machine for access to and return of these devices, with complete visibility to who has which device, and if it was returned. What is especially nice is that the system can be distributed, meaning a small system can be put in receiving, maybe a couple of them in the picking area, etc., eliminating the long queues that usually result from centralized approaches. If we ran a DC, we would by some of these.


Mobile Device Management System from Apex Supply Chain Technologies


It is not by any means a new solution, but the vacuum assist carton lifting system from Vaculex can make the job much easier. While Gilmore has seen similar systems in manufacturing plants, neither Gilmore nor Holste had ever seen it in a distribution center, despite its obvious benefits in terms of an improved work environment, increased productivity, reduced injuries and more. There are more of these systems in Europe, where laws often determine how much lifting workers can do, but Vaculex says it sees growing adoption in the US too, and we say with good reason.


Assisted Carton Lifting System from Vaculex


There was a lot of interest in a drone-based system for taking physical inventories in a DC from a company called PINC. The drones fly the aisles - usually shut down for a brief period or during off shifts, using imagers to capture product IDs and location bar codes. We have some questions - is inventory by location still that bad here in 2017? - but we saw several retailers talking to PINC about the solution.


PINC's Drone System for Taking Inventory in the DC



OK, that's it for our Day 1 ProMat individual clips. We'll be back with Day 2 next week.

Any reaction to any of these new solutions from ProMat? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below or the link above to send an email.


Your Comments/Feedback




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