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ProMat 2013: Three keynotes to offer insights on the future

January 17, 2013

By Sara Pearson Specter, Editor at Large

This year, ProMat features three keynote presentations, each offering critical insights from experts into future developments in robotics, business and the supply chain.

The first runs Monday morning from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom, Room S100, and features Henrik I. Christensen, KUKA chair of robotics and director of robotics at Georgia Tech. In a presentation entitled “The Impact of Robotics on Economic Growth,” Christensen will detail how advances in robotics are revolutionizing manufacturing and distribution operations, as well as share insights into how these developments will propel future economic growth.

“We’ve seen tremendous progress in robotics and automation in material handling over the last few years,” said Christensen. “There has been a lot of development in automation that does the handling tasks that don’t require a lot of intelligence and are physically challenging. Additionally, the use of robotic technology decreases the amount of space that you need—and real estate is getting increasingly expensive.”
Although using automation for materials handling can increase efficiency by 20%, Christensen said, there are challenges, including how to integrate it into existing infrastructure and how to retrofit existing DCs with this technology. He’ll cover those topics in his presentation as well, he said.


Tuesday morning, from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom, Room S100, Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, delivers the second keynote presentation. Forbes will make recommendations for “Navigating the New Political Climate for Business Growth and Success.”

With the presidential inauguration having just taken place, one-time presidential candidate Forbes will assess the impact of the president and his administration on the future of the economy and business growth. Having served two administrations, Forbes’ keen ability to provide economic and political insights on the most debated issues of the day is trusted by business leaders here and abroad. Colorful and personal, he will provide insights and strategic advice for business success during this time of economic transition.


The final keynote presentation, on Wednesday, features a discussion of “The Future of Material Handling, Logistics and Supply Chain” from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. in the Grand Ballroom, Room S100. First setting the stage for the discussion will be some remarks from futurist Edie Weiner, president of consulting group Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc.

“I will set the backdrop for which the future of material handling, logistics and supply chain will unfold,” said Weiner. “I’ll talk about why our thinking is stuck in yesterday, and why we have to break away from that and see the world for where it’s really going, not from where we think it is. Because the way we see the future is really colored by everything that we’ve ever learned, so it’s important to start fresh and new.”

Once freed from those preconceptions, said Weiner, it’s possible to clearly examine the current transformations of the economy and the growth propositions it presents. “Then, against that backdrop, we can apply those transformations to the benefit of any business,” she added.

After her presentation, Weiner will moderate a panel of materials handling and supply chain insiders as they discuss how important issues, key trends and shifts in best practices in material handling and logistics will make the supply chain work in the future. The panel includes George Prest, CEO of MHI; Rick Blasgen, president and CEO of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP); Michael J. Mikitka, CEO of the Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC); and Liz Richards, executive vice president of the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA).

ProMat 2013 is scheduled to be held January 21-24, 2013 in Chicago’s McCormick Place South. The tradeshow will showcase the latest manufacturing, distribution and supply chain solutions in the material handling and logistics industry.

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