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Looking back at Modex

MHI’s Modex 2024 saw a record-shattering number of registered manufacturing and supply chain professionals, reaching a total of 48,733. The event, held March 11 to 14 in Atlanta, saw attendees engaged with 1,200 exhibitors showcasing the latest supply chai

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This is an excerpt of the original article. It was written for the May-Jun 2024 edition of Supply Chain Management Review. The full article is available to current subscribers.

May-Jun 2024

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MHI’s Modex 2024 saw a record-shattering number of registered manufacturing and supply chain professionals, reaching a total of 48,733. The event, held March 11 to 14 in Atlanta, saw attendees engaged with 1,200 exhibitors showcasing the latest supply chain technology and innovation across three halls and 580,000 net square feet at the Georgia World Congress Center.  This was the largest Modex event to date for MHI, with 32% more registered visitors than Modex 2022. Here’s a look at some of what our editors saw at the show.

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From the May-Jun 2024 edition of Supply Chain Management Review.

May-Jun 2024

In each issue I try to leave you with some of my limited knowledge in this space. Or at least give you something to think about. I think it is our job at Supply Chain Management Review to -- hopefully -- leave you…
Browse this issue archive.
Access your online digital edition.
Download a PDF file of the May-Jun 2024 issue.

FORTNA showcases OptiSweep solution

Fortna showcased OptiSweep, arobotic solution that manages small packages that have been sorted into totes and transported by a Geek+ autonomous mobile robot (AMR) to a tipping station, where the packages are tipped into a bag for transportation.

As worker availability continues to be challenging, distribution and parcel operations are searching to automate repetitive and physically draining tasks to make them more efficient, accurate and less dependent on labor.

FORTNA software coordinates with sorter logic and the automatic guided vehicle (AGV) module, eliminating the need for operators to travel between destinations. This solution gives companies the opportunity for significant savings in labor costs, allowing them to extend operations seamlessly and maintain prolonged runtime without disruptions. 

OPEX launches new automated sortation and order retrieval

OPEX launched its newest automated sorting and order retrieval solutions—OPEX Sure Sort X with OPEX Xtract. OPEX Sure Sort X represents the next generation of high-speed, automated sorting. When Sure Sort X is paired with Xtract—OPEX’s order retrieval system—retrieving totes and transferring their contents into shipping containers also becomes fully automated.

“OPEX remains dedicated to innovations that align with the evolving demands of the market,” said Alex Stevens, president of warehouse automation. “Our customers want one integrated solution to sort, retrieve and automatically get the product into its final container. Our new solutions automate multiple manual tasks with a simple, one-touch solution.”

Sure Sort X and Xtract join OPEX’s existing warehouse automation portfolio, which includes the Sure Sort, Perfect Pick and Infinity, all of which are custom-configured for each customer and designed to completely transform supply chain infrastructure.

Yale Lift Truck Technologies debuts expanded operator assist solutions

Yale Lift Truck Technologies announced the availability of its Yale Reliant forklift operator assist solution on an additional 16 Yale models. These warehouse lift trucks expand the technology’s availability to a total of 59 models covering a wide range of applications, including retail and e-commerce fulfillment, wholesale distribution and 3PL operations.

Yale debuted stand-alone availability of its advanced dynamic stability (ADS) offering, one of the underlying technologies in the company’s Yale Reliant forklift operator assist solution.

“Forklift operator assist solutions are a step that warehouses can take today to support inexperienced operators and help reduce the risk of accidents and close calls like an operator taking a corner too fast, pulling product from high racking or tilting the mast too quickly or too far with a load in an unfavorable position,” said Joe Koch, emerging technology sales manager.

KNAPP launches “Zero Touch” in North American market

KNAPP announced the release of its “Mission: Zero Touch” solutions to the North American market.

Zero Touch uses a variety of technologies, including KNAPP OSR Shuttles, PiE Robots, OSR Shuttle Evo Frozen and its intelligent pocket sortation, explained Jusef Buzimkic, chief sales officer. The glue for the application is a layer of software technologies, delivered by KNAPP including WMS, WCS and AI enabled technologies across the spectrum of KNAPP products.

The intent of Zero Touch, Buzimkic said, is to eliminate unnecessary touches that can be handled reliably by automation at high throughput, rather than do away with all human labor. “It’s all about adding value and eliminating unnecessary touches,” he said.

Big Joe extends opportunities with EP North America

Big Joe Forklifts showcased its innovative materials handling equipment. The company’s recent acquisition of EP North America (formerly ePicker) will allow both brands to share services across organizations, expanding support functions and improving processes for customer service, fulfillment, aftermarket, warranty, parts, marketing, operations and more.

Big Joe will continue to focus on innovative niche products and in-between-handling applications while the EP North America channel will primarily focus on “purpose-built” lithium-ion forklifts. This partnership will also provide EP North America use of the Big Joe AMR vehicles, which were demoed at the show.

Leveraging Big Joe’s legacy in the market and combining it with the added  focus of EP North America’s growing dealer network, the two brands will be able to extend those benefits to its dealers as well as end-users looking for Class 1 and Class 3 warehouse equipment.

Dematic showcases VR experience for site simulation

Dematic featured an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience, allowing attendees to step inside realistic recreations of DCs, manufacturing centers and warehouses to view simulated operations in detail.

“The introduction of VR will provide unprecedented insights into Dematic solutions, offering an immersive experience that enhances team capabilities, enriches company partnerships and reinforces commitment to elevating Dematic’s customer experiences,” said Mike Larsson, president, Dematic and KION Group executive board member. “The integration of industry-leading software aims to redefine connectivity and deepen an understanding of customer needs.”

Attendees also could hear industry insights from Dematic executives at two educational seminars. Brett Webster, director of product management, shared his perspectives on how data, software and hardware enable the future of supply chain and warehouse operations. Eric Sharon, senior VP, legal, joined a panel with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce to discuss Dematic’s approach to cross-border growth and expansion.

Kardex FulfillX for AutoStore can help businesses meet goals in under 6 months

Showing a new way to maximize automation and robotics potential, Kardex presented the latest developments in automation software.

A leading manufacturer of automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), Kardex showcased Kardex FulfillX, a warehouse execution system designed specifically for AutoStore and powered by Kardex systems. Kardex FulfillX takes the unexpected surprises out of go-live and allows new AutoStore systems to ramp-up faster and meet or exceed business cases in as little as six months.

In addition to new developments in warehouse software, attendees experienced live demonstrations of Kardex’s Intuitive Picking Assistant that projects relevant picking information directly onto the surface of the access opening for both the Kardex Remstar Vertical Buffer Module and AutoStore ports.

“With this new intuitive picking solution, we are following the trend of intuitive and user-friendly operation with a visual picking display feature that responds to movements and guides the operator, thus enabling ergonomic, fast, error-free picking,” said Tobias Flury, head of technology, Kardex. 

ORBIS showcases packaging innovations

ORBIS invited attendees to see the latest in sustainably produced packaging products and automated packaging technologies. Along with seeing ORBIS’ innovative products in person, visitors experienced products from partners like Agilox, Black-I Robotics, Combi Packaging Systems and Steel King.

“At ORBIS, we’re immensely proud of our ongoing contributions to a more efficient and sustainable supply chain,” said Lynn Hediger, VP of product management. “Our reusable totes and pallets improve the flow of product in today’s automated systems and the overall supply chain. We design products to interface seamlessly in automated systems to drive repeatable performance and system uptime.”

Attendees could also stop by the booth to see the ORBIS XpressPickup system, designed especially for buy-online/pick-up in-store applications. ORBIS also showcased the OPTEBulk sleeve-pack system for warehousing and storage, metal racks for automotive part packaging and its Bulkpak containers for part shipments.

CMC Packaging Automation highlights CartonWrap DUO

CMC Packaging Automation featured its recently introduced CMC CartonWrap DUO, an automated packaging solution that can produce both right-sized cartons and corrugated envelopes, on demand, in one machine footprint.

The machine automatically packages items as right-sized cartons or envelopes, using continuous roll-fed corrugated material at a speed of 900 packages per hour. The corrugated is directly fed by CMC’s Wave Line, an inline cardboard coupler to produce corrugated material on demand. CMC noted its design cuts corrugated material usage by up to 50% compared to existing technology and requires up to 70% less glue.

“We are incredibly proud to introduce the CartonWrap DUO to the market,” said Francesco Ponti, CEO at CMC. “This innovative solution represents a significant step forward in packaging efficiency and sustainability. By offering both box and envelope options on demand, we are empowering businesses to optimize their operations while minimizing environmental impact.”

Capable of packaging diverse items like apparel, electronics, and books, this technology ensures secure delivery. Its unique feature covers a thickness range from 250 mm for right-sized cartons to an ultra-thin 1 mm for shipping envelopes.

Concentric’s PowerHIVE offloads battery chores

The highlight at Concentric’s booth was a working demo of its recently released PowerHIVE solution, a robotics-enabled approach to forklift battery and charging that Concentric says eliminates the need for operations with electric lift trucks to deal with battery swap processes or opportunity charging, since the PowerHIVE takes both those burdens off the table, while ensuring near full uptime.

The solution, which uses support services and robotic-enabled automation from Concentric, leverages a robotic industrial robot arm within each PowerHIVE to quickly take battery cores from trucks and place them into the PowerHIVE charging system, and then retrieves a fully charged core from the system, and places it back in the truck, all in under 3 minutes.

According to Concentric, this allows various types and makes of electric trucks to keep running productively, with no more concerns about regular swapping of lead acid batteries and also, no opportunity charging procedures for operators to learn and follow, as is typically done when using lithium and thin-plate pure lead batteries.

“For facilities with multiple shifts, PowerHIVE delivers an automated and safe forklift power experience for every forklift type,” said Antonio Mendonca, Concentric’s director of engineering. “The system eliminates the need to think about forklift charging or battery maintenance as operators receive a battery that’s ready to go in less than 3 minutes.”

Rite-Hite ONE digital platform debuts

Rite-Hite introduced the world to Rite-Hite ONE at Modex. A comprehensive digital platform, Rite-Hite ONE empowers customers to optimize facility throughput, prioritize maintenance, mitigate safety incidents, reduce trailer detention and act on meaningful data analytics from Rite-Hite’s line of smart, connected equipment.

“The Rite-Hite ONE Digital platform provides smart-connected capabilities and intelligent software solutions that enhances the value of our customer’s Rite-Hite equipment,” said Dave Adams, president of Rite Hite Digital Solutions. “It functions as a control tower from that users can oversee and manage a connected ecosystem of materials handling operations.”

The new software platform helps unify materials handling operations in warehouses, distribution centers and other industrial facilities. Along with connecting Rite-Hite’s smart-enabled high-speed doors and loading dock equipment, it also collects and analyzes data from that equipment, helping facility managers and teams to see trends and make data-based decisions.

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