TZA was pleased to connect with clients, prospects and our market partners at ProMat 2023. The ProMat tradeshow focuses on material handling solutions including software solutions for warehouse and labor management. There was also a focus on warehouse automation products such as robotics or high-density automatic picking systems. We were among 1,050 exhibitors at Chicago’s McCormick Place interacting with a record 50,924 registered attendees on March 27-30.
One of the important show takeaways was the emphasis on solutions that will impact labor utilization and performance. First and foremost, improving warehouse operational efficiency was a recurring theme as companies look to navigate ongoing supply chain and labor challenges. Of particular note this year was the prevalence of Warehouse Execution System (WES) software. These are packages designed to manage automation in the warehouse. This is notable due to how WES continues to encroach on Warehouse Management System functionality.
The traditional material handling and software solution vendors were out in force at ProMat 2023, and the large systems integrators and robotics vendors drew significant traffic as well. It’s clear there is continued interest in advanced automation and the integration of supporting technology solutions, such as labor management systems. This is happening throughout the industry as a strategy to enhance supply chain operations.
During the show, TZA and other firms across the industry emphasized the importance of optimizing labor management, which includes both manual and human/robotic touchpoints. Meanwhile, automation firms discussed the mechanization of work to reduce labor requirements. Automation and robotics appropriately paired with better human performance on remaining work creates the most efficient, cost-effective labor management outcomes.
Trends to Watch in Three Operational Areas
There’s a growing focus on deploying robotics to improve throughput, inventory and order fulfillment accuracy. Pallet transport, goods-to-person picking (using shuttles and GTP bots), unit sortation and auto packing solutions were on broad display.
2. Solution Integration via WES
Robust WES software can integrate automation solutions from various suppliers into the Warehouse Management System (WMS) and Labor Management System System (LMS). The show fostered much discussion of software as a service (SaaS) delivery and using open APIs to simplify application integration. The market is still immature, but WES solutions were featured throughout the show floor from a variety of suppliers.
3. Labor Workforce Management
Labor planning, dynamic labor scheduling and labor management were all prominent topics at ProMat. Successfully joining workforce management (planning and scheduling solutions) with labor management (productivity and employee engagement) is a clear opportunity in the market. And it’s one TZA is ready to support.
Overall, more technology solutions were on display than ever before at ProMat 2023. As supply chains become increasingly complex, the need for high-tech operational support will only increase.
As you assess your programs, having an outside review from an expert can help point you in the right direction. To determine the most effective workforce management approach for your organization, book a free operational labor audit from TZA today and gain the following insights.
Author: John Seidl, Director of Partner Programs