Queue the CODA and roll the end credits, that’s a wrap for ProMatDX! With another conference in our rearview mirror, we pause to reflect on the highlights of a whirlwind week.
Despite one of the supply chain industry’s leading events having gone digital this year, there was no shortage of enthusiasm or value. ProMatDX was packed, with 350+ sponsor showcases, 650 product demonstrations, 100 education sessions, PLUS valuable keynotes. In fact, between our demos, seminars, and showcase booth, IAM Robotics saw nearly 1,000 attendees engage across our content! Perhaps what we missed the most was rubbing elbows with our industry pals.
ProMat is one of the biggest events IAM Robotics participates in, so we pour our hearts into the event, and it shows. Our seminar sessions ranked high among conference chatter, while our company drew valuable lessons from MHI’s Annual Industry Report.
We’re pleased by the incredible success of this year’s educational seminars. IAM Robotics presented two seminars about AMR technology in the first few days of ProMatDX to engaged audiences, who asked insightful questions that allowed us to expand the robotics conversation.
April 12: When to Use AMR vs. Conveyor
Hitting the ground running on day one of ProMatDX, Rich Flati and Jason Pokorny dove head first into automation tools, weighing the pros and cons of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and conveyors. Conveyors have always been reliable in warehouses and distribution centers, but as technology advances, AMRs make more sense, especially because of the labor-saving benefits.
- Collaborative AMRs can travel long distances and haul a variety of materials
- AMRs work safely with and around people
Importantly, AMR tech increasingly wins out because of flexibility, which conveyors by design could never provide. Conveyors require significant space and infrastructure, so AMRs provide a viable alternative when space and budget are concerns.
April 14: Extending Collaborative Technology from the Robotic Arm to the AMR
Once upon a time, industrial robots could only operate around people if they were caged due to safety concerns. Our own Wes Reid and FANUC’s Eric Potter joined forces to explore robotics growth, from early industrial robots and beyond.
Collaborative arms really changed the game, capable of working safely with humans nearby. Flash forward: today’s technology relies on sensors for safety. Sensors are the eyes of AMRs, detecting obstacles so robots can go around them. But the current technology has drawbacks. Robotic arms use force-torque sensors to mitigate impacts, but AMRs still use gear-motor drivetrains, which require more forceful impacts to stop. The key to success? Next-generation AMRs will use direct-drive motor technology to replicate the collaborative benefits of force-torque sensors deployed in collaborative robotic arms, enhancing collaboration.
From Around ProMatDX
Our two seminars alone brought in an audience of 365 people, and we enjoyed sharing our expertise. But because ProMatDX was such a massive event, we couldn’t help but take a look around ourselves along the way for the inside scoop on what’s trending in our industry. A few of our favorites include:
- Fulfillment Automation and Getting Work Done On Time – TREW Automation shares how to create solutions for both peak and off-peak seasons to streamline fulfillment and get work done on time.
- t-Sort, t-Sort Plus and t-Sort Mini – Automation Sortation Solution Robots – Tompkins Robotics’ robotic sortation system, t-Sort, provides unmatched flexibility and throughput. t-Sort, Tompkins shares how t-Sort, t-Sort Plus, and t-Sort Mini handle a wide range of items.
- Handing Over the AMR Keys: Strategies for User Adoption and Unstoppable ROI – Seegrid discusses the importance of employee buy-in regarding AMR deployments, including success metrics, ways to promote user adoption, and how to prove ROI.
IAM Robotics had a blast sharing our expertise with so many people, as well as filling our brains with the news and advancements from around the industry. We can’t wait until next year.
2021 MHI Annual Industry Report
In keeping with tradition, MHI released their annual industry report during the conference. The 2021 Annual Industry Report: Innovation Driven Resilience highlights the supply chain challenges of the past year and how companies were forced to evaluate their operational resiliency.
Key Takeaways from the MHI Report
If there’s one thing the pandemic taught businesses, it’s that it pays to be proactive when it comes to digital tech. The crisis of COVID-19 quickly sent life and the U.S. supply chain into chaos, but early adopters of supply chain technologies like robotics were poised to rise to the challenge.
Luckily, nearly half of supply chain leaders accelerated digital tech spending to enhance their operations. Top investments to adapt to pandemic conditions have included:
- Cloud computing
- Inventory/network optimization tools
But technology isn’t the only key to thriving during disruption. MHI sums up its report with a hat tip to Deloitte’s Global Resilience Report, which highlights five characteristics of resilient organizations.
- Prepared – Successful leaders plan for the future.
- Adaptable – Adaptability to any circumstance is crucial to any organization’s future.
- Responsible – Leaders fulfill stakeholder needs, because despite the name, the bottom line isn’t everything.
- Trustworthy – Communication and transparency—plus a little empathy—build trust.
- Collaborative – Collaboration fosters decision making and innovation.
For more key insights, download the 2021 MHI Annual Industry Report.
Catch Up on ProMatDX Action On Demand
Between HUNDREDS of showcases and massive amounts of educational material to soak up, ProMatDX was a wild ride. Did you miss anything from the conference? Visit our showcase page for a limited time, or stop by our ProMatDX Youtube playlist to catch up on demand.