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C-Suite Interview with Francisco Moreno Velo: The growth of automation in logistics

Demand for automation remains high in the logistics and supply chain sector despite the broader economic trends.

Francisco Moreno Velo, President of Warehouse Solutions, North America

Vanderlande Industries

MMH: What is your number one takeaway from ProMat 2023?

Moreno Velo: This was my first ProMat show and the level of enthusiasm among the attendees and exhibitors was extremely high. There was a good vibe, a lot of networking going on and a lot of interaction between people. As a team, we got to meet many people within a short period of time and outside of the “typical” professional environment. It was also great to see firsthand all of the new products and solutions that are coming to market right now.

MMH: What are the three key market trends from your perspective?

Moreno Velo: Clearly there’s a big trend towards using robotics for item, case and box picking. We’re seeing more and more of this, and ProMat 2023 further proved that point. We expect this trend to continue as the business case for robotics continues to expand.

Also, we’re seeing even more interest in the goods-to-persons systems that incorporate shuttle-based AS/RS systems. Companies view these as cutting-edge solutions that provide better economics and very high levels of productivity. This was a theme at our booth this year and many competitors were taking a similar approach.

Finally, we’re also seeing continued interest in using automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to manage the growing levels of ecommerce activity. Our sortation systems are also playing a key role in helping companies address these complexities as they continue to deal with a labor shortage and other modern business challenges.

MMH: How is Vanderlande reacting to these market trends?

Moreno Velo: Right now, we’re focusing on goods-to-person solutions, including both item and case picking for general merchandise, apparel and other items. The ADAPTO shuttle system that was a MHI Innovation Award Finalist is a standard solution that can be adapted with different features based on our customers’ needs.

In the North American market, we’re also seeing a big move in the direction of more automation and a shift to using more sophisticated goods-to-person systems. This is one of our major focuses right now. Additionally, we have a pocket sorter solution that we’re launching in the North American market after experiencing success with this solution in the European market.

Despite the wariness right now around the economic outlook and a possible recession, we feel that demand for automation is “decoupled” from the broader, macroeconomic trends. Companies will continue to invest in automation because that need for it is there regardless of any economic peaks or valleys. I'm looking forward to seeing the growth of the logistics and automation sectors in North America.

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