Joe Colletti, President and CEO, DMW&H
Colletti: Labor availability and reliability remain key issues for companies right now. Simply getting people who are interested in working in the distribution environment—and then making sure those people show up for work every day—is a major issue right now. And, that's really what's driving their investment in automation as they look for a “backup” that’s less reliant on the workforce. With automation, companies can still get their products out even when there are labor constraints.
The advancement of robotics is the second trend. At previous ProMat shows robotics was really just boxes on the floor moving to the left and to the right. And as I walked around the exhibition floor this year, I see that robotics developers are now coming up with very good solutions that solve problems within the warehouse/DC space. I was very happy to see that advancement.
Finally, we’re seeing an increased focus on the importance of system integration. There are a lot of manufacturers that provide solutions that are good for certain areas of the warehouse/DC but are unable to cover the full automation needs of the customer. Our customers also do not want disparate “islands of automation” within their facilities. This is where we as systems integrators come in. Our customers rely on us to select the best technology for each part of their system, to vet out those systems, and to ensure all subsystems work together to create a fully integrated solution.
Colletti: We brought approximately 25 associates to ProMat 2023, including a team of engineers and programmers, to help gain an understanding of all the different technologies that's out there right now. Those insights help us determine how to apply those technologies within our customer base, which is primarily made up of DC and warehouse operators. You could spend all day just going back and forth between five or six companies trying to understand the nuances across the solutions, so we put a lot of effort into understanding those technologies and where they fit within our overall solutions. Ultimately, our goal is to create a seamless experience for our customers.