What Happened at ProMat 2017?

The 2017 ProMat show in Chicago was the place to be last week for those wanting insight into some of the latest innovations in the manufacturing, distribution and supply chain industries. At the end of March, we highlighted some of the speakers and events at ProMat 2017 that we were looking forward to in our blog, Previewing ProMat 2017.

ProMat 2017 Darcor castersThere were many great booths and people in the industry sharing manufacturing and supply chain solutions. There were some excellent educational sessions covering far-reaching topics of sustainability, competitive advantage, new technologies, ergonomics, and more.

Other ProMat 2017 highlights were well-known keynote and entertainment speakers including basketball superstar Magic Johnson delivering a powerful customer-focussing message and comedian Dana Carvey who delivered comical impersonations of all US Presidents from Ronald Reagan through to Donald Trump, as well as performing some of his well-know characters. Fully in-sync with current affairs, Dana employed the President Trump persona to provide hilarious entertainment for all.

The Darcor team also took part in the educational opportunities at ProMat, highlighting several new product innovations. Booth visitors had the opportunity to engage in a hands-on experience with these innovations on Darcor’s demonstration cart. These innovations included:

  • Digital Push/Pull Force Gauge: Darcor’s leading ergonomic wheel technology was demonstrated by displaying peak forces to start the cart in motion as well as maintain the rolling action. Booth visitors were amazed to see 1,500 lbs. could be started from rest with under 35 lbs of push force and then maintained rolling with under 10 lbs of force.
  • Central Positioning System: One of Darcor’s latest innovations – the Central Positioning System (CPS) – was installed on the display cart. All four of this cart’s casters were full swivel style. By simply engaging the CPS (in this case by foot pedal), one set of the cart’s casters was transformed from swivel caster to a caster locked parallel to the direction of travel. Engaging the CPS gives the operator greater control over their cart during long straight travels. By disengaging the CPS, all casters revert back to full swivels and the operator regains the ability to easily maneuver their cart.
  • Central Brake Lock: Another of Darcor’s new product introductions, the Central Brake Lock (CBL), was widely recognized as an industry game-changer. Once activated, the CBL engages with the wheel tread material and provides a solid brake force that prevents the wheel from rotating. Several booth visitors commented that the CBL overcomes the issues of existing floor lock systems that either shear-off in operation because of their low clearance profile or inherent failure to provide consistent braking action.

Visitors experienced how the Darcor innovations empower the operator to utilize the cart as desired instead of having the cart dictate actions and movements. Darcor’s team is busy in discussions to implement pilot projects with these innovations.

Also last week, the 2017 MHI Annual Industry Report was released with some exciting key findings including:

  • The Rise of Digital Supply Chains – Eighty percent of survey respondents believe digital supply chains will be the predominant model within five years. Sixteen percent say they already are. Expected to be a source of either disruption or competitive advantage are:
    • Robotics and automation (61%)
    • Predictive analytics (57%)
    • The Internet-of-Things (55%)
    • Sensors and automatic identification (53%)
    • Driverless vehicles & drones (54%)
  • Hiring and Retaining a Skilled Workforce – This area continues to be the biggest obstacle facing supply chain professionals with 63% of respondents reporting the issue. Additionally, 50% say training their workforce to use new technologies is a top priority. Other significant challenges include customer demand for faster response times (55%) and customer demand for lower delivery cost (53%).

Darcor recently wrote a blog post addressing some of the issues around retaining and keeping safe aging employees, Workplace Ergonomics and Your Baby Boomer Workforce. The aging demographic is an important area of focus when thinking about safety, retention and training. Also, in 2015, we touched upon the area of driverless vehicles with a blog post focused on automated guided vehicles, Fork-Free Revolution to Support Material Handling.

As always, the ProMat show was a great opportunity to learn and experience new industry innovations.

Let us know if you attended ProMat this year and tell us about your highlights. Add your comments below.

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