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ProMat 2011 and Technology Advances

By Steve Simmerman | 03/26/2011 | 8:22 AM

It's hard to believe but ProMat 2011 has come and gone.  Traffic at the show was up significantly over the past few years - which was a very welcome sign for all attendees and exhibitors.  First of all, I tip my hat to MHIA for doing a great job delivering another quality event!  On top of it all, the Chicago weather was fairly cooperative (save Wednesday night when my west coast guests and I were caught in a pretty good wind/snow/sleet storm as we left the restaurant - that thankfully was short-lived). Spring is indeed, on the way!

    Eastward view of the Chicago River from Michigan Ave. on Sunday evening prior to the start of ProMat.

Feedback among visitors that I spoke with was that they were impressed with lots of new technologies and innovations among the exhibitors.  Some pretty impressive robotics, AGV applications, more sophisticated cubing/weighing systems and of course lots of good software innovations.  The common theme was how these innovations are designed to help customers improve supply chain performance, reduce costs, increase productivity and more.  Given the tough times we've all experienced, any technology that can deliver on these promises should be welcome.

Of course, as I often speak about, it's not technology alone that will take us to the supply chain promised land.  People and processes remain critical components of any successful supply chain initiative.  I was pleased to hear about several case studies in the educational sessions where the focus of the presentation was on people, process as well as developing a performance-based cultures and continuous improvement programs.

One last common theme I heard from many exhibitors was that while they are proud of their technology advances, many are now facing a very tight labor market for skilled engineering and software people to help deliver solutions to their clients.  It's funny how quickly the tide has turned.  Not very long ago, we had an abundance of skilled resources as the economy cooled and now it seems the critical component in the people, process, technology triad is people.  A challenge, but I believe it's a welcome challenge for most.

I hope you enjoyed the show as much as I did. Let us know what you thought about ProMat 2011, we'd like to hear from you.


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