Companies tend to look backward more than they do forward; that's just the nature of a marketplace that feeds off of P&L statements, quarterly earnings calls and annual reports. It's no great revelation that tallying up how much stuff you made and shipped last month is a much easier task than accurately forecasting what you need to make and ship next month, next quarter, or next year.
But that's not the world that supply chain professionals live in, as they're charged with always looking forward—to the next product, the next delivery, the next "your world is about to change" evolution (omni-channel, anyone?). As the speed of commerce increases at a feverish pace, material handling and logistics professionals have basically three answers to a fickle and constantly changing marketplace: better people, better processes and better technology.
ProMat 2015, the largest trade show for the industry, provides a forum that helps supply chain decision-makers find and identify those better people, processes and technology. At this year's show in Chicago's McCormick Place, held March 23-26, professionals will be exposed to 800 exhibits, four keynotes, over 100 educational seminars and a Workforce Summit dedicated to helping companies find, train and retain top supply chain talent.
Special guest speakers at the show include Google's Renee Niemi, director of the Android and Chrome global business; John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of retail grocer Whole Foods Market; and Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and a 2014 inductee in the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame (you can read my recent profile of Woz at www.industryweek.com).
All indications are that 2015 should be an up year for purchases of material handling equipment, according to trade group MHI, sponsors of ProMat 2015. "We expect economic fundamentals to favorably support material handling equipment manufacturing expansion through 2015 and 2016," says Hal Vandiver, MHI executive consultant. Orders for equipment grew 8.1% in 2014, and Vandiver expects an even better year in 2015, with growth pegged at 9%. The pace will slow slightly in 2016, though orders will still grow by 2016.
Despite the wealth of educational sessions, most attendees come to ProMat for one main reason: to see all the cool new stuff, and this year should be no exception. In the following pages, we offer a small sampling of the latest material handling and logistics technology that will be on display at ProMat 2015. The products are grouped to reflect the location of their exhibits in the ProMat hall.
Check out our ProMat products preview for a taste of what is in store for you at ProMat 2015.