Reflections on ProMat 2015

Wrapping up the week, we wanted to reflect on some of the emerging technologies and interesting companies we met at ProMat 2015 in Chicago. This is by no means a comprehensive review of the 800+ vendors who exhibited at the event. Below are a few vendors that we wanted to mention because they fit into our vision of what the future looks like. In alphabetical order:

Blue Violet Systems

Blue Violet Systems is pioneering an impressive technology stack for supply chain analytics. Their technology allows companies to query video that is matched up with transactional data. The technical details aside, this is a truly innovated use of technology to offer unparalleled visibility to processes and product. Applications include use cases such as monitoring loading processes, investigating exceptions during MHE handling, and providing mobile visibility to deliveries, including deliver exceptions.

Fanuc

Robotics company Fanuc is planning to release impressive predictive analytics capabilities later this year. This is a perfect example of leveraging big data to monitor the “Internet of Things.” Applications include scheduling maintenance windows using predictive analytics and monitoring operators to adjust or correct operations which might cause mechanical issues (such as running a machine at an excessive speed for an extended amount of time). These algorithms should become more prevalent in coming years. Analyzing the massive amount of generated data is the challenge.

Pcdata

Pcdata gets a mention here for their Smart Glasses powered Distrib Augmented Reality picking system. The glasses are the next phase in the evolution of pick to light systems. We tried these on, and it is certainly a novel idea. Wearable technology is a hot trend, and this company is pushing the boundaries. We had some open questions about safety, eye strain and usability, so it will be interesting to see how the market adopts this technology.

Sologobe

Several WMS providers impressed us, but Sologlobe’s configuration capabilities stood out as a feature worth mentioning. We believe in giving users control over how applications look and work. Sologlobe end users have the ability to dynamically configure process flows, RF screens, and the UI in a way that provides extensive flexibility and customization. Additionally, they offer robust APIs to interface with different reporting applications.

SwissLog

SwissLog, makers of intralogistics automation equipment, has some innovate new technology to provide telematics data associated with forklift travel. The applications of this are numerous and depend on other integrated systems and DC layout. Some applications include route analysis, dynamic routing inside the DC, and real-time visibility to workers on the floor.

Summary

Aside from these technologies, we have a list of honorable mentions that range from sensors that count and report operational data to 3D and virtual reality visualizations. Many of the WMC/WMS vendors demoed packaged BI solutions. In our experience what these tools look like after the system is implemented can vary, but it is encouraging to see investments in them. Some notable examples here include Manhattan Associate’s mobile labor management app and W&H’s mobile reporting app. If there is one overarching takeaway from the conference, it is that there is a never ending list of new sources of data available in the supply chain. We hope to be the partner of choice in developing strategies and tools to best utilize this data to improve and optimize your business.

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