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Look back at MODEX Show 2022

Modex 2022 was the largest to date, with registrations reaching 37,047—­a 20% attendance jump over the pre-Covid Modex 2018. The four-day show (March 28-31) covered 405,000 net square feet of exhibit space at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center with 857 exhibiting companies. Here’s a glimpse of what our editors saw at the show.

Dematic showcases fulfillment automation tools’ interactive zones

Dematic’s booth invited attendees to experience interactive zones tailored to grocery, apparel, food and beverage, and general merchandising industries. Touchscreen monitors provided attendees with information about the company’s various fulfillment tools.

Tools include Dematic Smart Task Activation, an order fulfillment management software that increases operational effectiveness by synchronizing workflows in real time, as well as Dematic Micro-Fulfillment, which moves e-commerce fulfillment closer to the customer base for the shortest possible pickup and delivery times.

“As a result of our customer focus and a dedication to innovative problem solving,” said Dematic Americas’ EVP Mike Larsson, “we’ve seen tremendous growth and are looking forward to more exciting things to come for Dematic and our customers this year.”

Modex 2022 attendees also experienced Dematic Mixed Case Fulfillment, which delivers efficiency in the entire distribution center to retail and grocery replenishment supply chains, plus Dematic Depalletizer/Palletizer, a robotics system that provides dual functionality by operating as both a palletizer and depalletizer. Dematic Mobile Automation is a family of systems for automated load transport within a facility.

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KNAPP stresses its extensive software capabilities

KNAPP emphasized its extensive software capabilities as a means of supporting flexible distribution that spans omni-channel, e-commerce and retail fulfillment.

Heimo Robosch, executive VP of sales for KNAPP AG, commented that while KNAPP historically was known for the quality of its automation systems like shuttles, it is the company’s expanding software capabilities that are the root of much of the value its solutions provide today, and allow its solutions to address multiple needs, including omni-channel, e-commerce and retail fulfillment. Robosch added that the North American market now accounts for about 40% of KNAPP’s business, with strong global growth overall.

KNAPP’s KiSoft software suite offers multiple functions, including predictive analytics and maintenance. KNAPP also discussed its robotic order picking solution, which leverages artificial intelligence (AI) based technology from its partner Covariant. At the press conference, KNAPP discussed a new software tool called KiSoft Genomics that accelerates and simplifies gathering of master data for its robotics picking solution.

Josef Mentzer, CEO for KNAPP in North America, added that the company is rapidly expanding its US-based workforce and has added a software controls training center at its Kennesaw, Ga., U.S. headquarters to support customer needs and build software expertise.

Full Article.

Big Joe debuts BUD collaborative robot

Big Joe Forklifts previewed several new products, including the company’s vision for a new breed of semi-autonomous machines known as “co-bots,” or collaborative robots, that keep humans in the loop within materials handling workflows to deliver maximum value.

Nicknamed “BUD,” Big Joe’s User Directed Pallet Mover showcases the company’s User Directed Automation concept. It features a simple onboard tablet and Cloud connection to drive autonomously on custom missions once an operator manually loads a pallet and tells it where to go. “Automation as we know it in material handling is about to be turned upside down by products like BUD,” said Bill Pedriana, CMO.

BUD was available for demonstration at Modex and also later this year through a subscription service costing less than $50 a day in partnership with Vecna Robotics, whose technology powers the system. The Big Joe team also showcased a host of lithium powered lift trucks including the new RPL44 low profile rider pallet truck and PTT60 powered pedestrian tugger.

Full Article.

Kardex showcases AS/RS technologies using Augmented Reality

Well known for its vertical lift modules, vertical carousel modules and vertical buffer modules, Kardex has added a new product offering—AutoStore, a cube-based robotic picking technology.

“The addition of a cube-based robotic picking technology complements our existing product offering to better solve the intralogistics challenges of our customers,” said Christina Dube, Kardex’s director of marketing in North America. “Using augmented reality, you can see your warehouse come to life using Kardex automated solutions throughout your facility.”

From order picking to kitting and buffering, Kardex solutions support a variety of industries and applications. Implementing scalable automation and intuitive inventory management software enables increased space utilization, higher picking throughput and improved labor efficiencies.

In addition to AS/RS and software solutions, Kardex offers various lifecycle services to support your systems—both in-person and remotely—to keep your business running smoothly.

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OPEX unveils next generation goods-to-person technology

OPEX Corporation showcased the Infinity automated storage and retrieval system. Engineered for maximum flexibility and scalability in both throughput and storage, the solution is ideal for multiple applications, including omni-channel distribution, store replenishment, micro-fulfillment and e-commerce.

“The Infinity system offers unparalleled storage density, configurability and flexibility to power business today and in the future,” said Alex Stevens, president of warehouse automation. “This is the next generation of automation.”

The configurable rack design allows for maximum warehouse space utilization around obstructions or other equipment, accommodating various workflows and site layouts. A single Infinity iBOT wireless robotic vehicle travels under the storage structure and passes through the aisles, minimizing distance and saving time. Carrying up to 70 pounds, Infinity iBOTs have access to the entire storage array and deliver totes to decoupled presentation ports outside of the system. The system is easily scalable by adding more iBOTs, presentation ports and grids.

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Locus Robotics displays fleet of autonomous robots

Locus Robotics took warehouse fulfillment and supply chain management to the next level with the introduction of its new, fully integrated, intelligent fleet of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).

The new Locus fleet of purpose-built AMRs, consisting of Locus Origin, Locus Vector and Locus Max, are designed to double and triple productivity in all types of dynamic fulfillment and distribution environments.

“The Locus solution enables organizations to easily adapt and scale to changing volumes and demands quickly and cost effectively, with an ROI in months rather than years,” said Rick Faulk, CEO.

Powered by LocusOne, the industry's smartest warehouse orchestration platform, Locus ensures optimal productivity, ease of use and efficiency, assigning the right bot for the mission. Full Article

Orbis exhibits Odyssey plastic pallet

ORBIS Corporation showcased the 40 x 48-inch Odyssey pallet, which provides stability and unmatched durability with approximately 36 times the lifespan of a whitewood stringer pallet. “In testing from the Virginia Tech Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design, the Odyssey plastic pallet completed 400 cycles without failure,” said Alison Zitzke, senior product manager at ORBIS, “while the wood pallet’s average failure was 11 cycles.”

In addition to its cost-saving and sustainable advantages, the pallet’s unique design features—including optional steel reinforcements and molded-in frictional elements—help minimize load shifting and prevent slippage off fork equipment.

While designed to support loads of 2,800+ pounds, the Odyssey pallet is built to be easily moved, as well as interface seamlessly with automation. The Odyssey is also easily cleanable, keeps plants free of wood chips, and protects products from damage caused by nails or loose boards associated with wood pallets.

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Tompkins Robotics introduces tSort3D

At a press conference on Monday, Tompkins Robotics revealed its tSort3D, among other products.

Expanding upon the capabilities of the previously released tSort product lineup, the tSort3D provides users a powerful unit sortation system that will enhance their destination density and volume considerably.

Offering users manual and robotic induction, among other induction stations, the unit sortation system can also be combined with goods-to-person (G2P) systems. Able to hold 24 to 48 destinations at a time, the system allows users to remove their orders individually or, if they prefer, one entire bank of orders—from 12 to 24—can be removed all at once.

“Just as importantly, when compared to traditional automated sortation solutions, tSort3D provides four to 25 times the amount of order sort destinations that they’re able to,” said Mike Futch, CEO and president of Tompkins Robotics.

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Honeywell & Clearpath deliver autonomous mobile robots to warehouses

Honeywell announced a strategic collaboration with Clearpath Robotics, giving warehouses and distribution centers the ability to easily automate operations and increase supply chain productivity through autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).

This partnership gives Honeywell an additional solution to ensure customers can meet and exceed operational demands. “AMR capability will enable customized workflows and provide an interface to our existing robotic and storage systems—expanding our integrated solution offerings,” said Thomas Evans, CTO of Honeywell Robotics.

The Clearpath partnership gives Honeywell Intelligrated customers a complete suite of fixed and mobile robotics solutions, backed by expert systems integration, solutions development and reliable 24/7 technical support.

Honeywell offered demos of Clearpath’s AMRs working with Honeywell’s Smart Flexible Depalletizer solution at their booth, illustrating the benefits of integrating AMRs into the warehouse to help achieve optimum results in current operations or build the foundation for future fulfillment requirements.

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Gorbel showcases warehouse and overhead solutions product lines

Gorbel Inc. showcased its full range of customer solutions. This was the first trade show where Gorbel’s booth featured both the overhead and warehouse sides of its business since acquiring Engineered Lifting Systems, and its Destuff-it and Restuff-it product lines.

Gorbel’s traditional overhead solutions include a workstation crane, G-Force and Easy Arm ergonomic lifting devices, a GS Series Hoist and Tether Track fall protection anchors. The Destuff-IT ergonomic conveyor systems help DC workers unload containers faster and with fewer injuries.

“Our products take the stress off of the worker while also helping to increase productivity,” said Rob Beightol, marketing director. The company’s new tractor drive for motorized movement of its cranes delivers industry leading power and performance, but at a fraction of the size of other mass-produced tractor drives on the market.

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MHS teams with partners on automated order fulfillment solution

MHS, a provider of materials handling automation and software solutions, unveiled an integrated, robotic order fulfillment solution developed in tandem with Mujin and HAI Robotics.

The goods-to-robot solution, which is managed by MHS’s Helix warehouse execution system (WES), boasts operational efficiency gains of up to 400%. A zero-pressure accumulation conveyor from MHS feeds totes to and from the order fill station. HAI’s autonomous case handling robots (ACRs) transport totes between storage and a Mujin piece picking robot. The Mujin robot picks each item for the order from a source tote, packs it and signals to Helix that the conveyor can move the completed order to the outbound location.

“By bringing together these different automation technologies to work together as a cohesive system, we can help customers not only address labor challenges in workflows like order picking, but improve overall efficiency and consistency too,” said Rob Schmit, senior VP, distribution and fulfillment, MHS.

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Jungheinrich showcases AGVs

Jungheinrich held a media event with a variety of product demonstrations. Company leaders focused on two automatic guided vehicles (AGVs): the EZS 350a NA (based on Jungheinrich’s standard series tow tractor) and the EKS 215a (based on its stacker).

Combining mechanical engineering with precision navigation technology, ensuring highly effective, reliable production, the EZS 350a NA can be used in mixed operations mode with manual trucks and pedestrians. With laser navigation, and capable of towing up to 11,000 pounds, the electric tow tractor decreases delivery times to assembly and production lines, and it enables the automated handling of repeatable transport processes to each.

The EKS 215a, a stacker capable of handling loads up to 3,300 pounds, is ideal for mixed operations with manual trucks and pedestrians in warehouses and production areas. Featuring a 24V lithium-ion battery, the stacker has an automatic charging function, along with a user-friendly HMI touch display.

“These systems are offering attendees a look at the possibilities where AGVs can be solutions to automate redundant, mundane tasks,” said Kai Beckhaus, president of Jungheinrich AG’s and Mitsubishi Logisnext Americas’ automation joint venture, MCJ Supply Chain Solutions. “Additionally, they’ll streamline processes for higher productivity and reallocate employee resources to higher-value jobs.”

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EnerSys displays Li-ion and TPPL batteries

EnerSys showcased its NexSys iON Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and NexSys PURE Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) batteries. Designed to enhance user productivity, while reducing operational costs, the batteries are environmentally friendly. In particular, they decrease carbon dioxide emissions and water consumption. When used together, the batteries can eliminate 13 gallons of distilled water usage on a weekly basis.

Developed with heavy-duty applications in mind, the NexSys iON batteries deliver high energy capacity, as they’ve also been manufactured with high performance cells.

The NexSys PURE batteries, which have been enhanced for fast- and opportunity-charging, are especially ideal for light- to medium-duty applications. “In comparison to flooded lead acid batteries, both batteries are more energy efficient per charge—up to 28%,” said Harold Vanasse, senior director of marketing, motive power global at EnerSys.

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Vanderlande exhibits portfolio of systems

Vanderlande Industries demonstrated a portfolio of its systems. ADAPTO, a roaming shuttle-based automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS), was a primary focus, as its ability to sequence and prioritize orders—while also roaming warehouse levels and aisles without lift platforms—was discussed. The AS/RS enables warehouses to use one-to-one and direct connect pick stations, which enhances fulfillment operations’ accuracy and efficiency.

The company also showed its modular goods-to-picker (GtP) workstations, which can be integrated with ADAPTO. Enabling one-to-one picking, along with sequencing for batch and discreet approaches, the ergonomic workstations help users enhance pick performances with minimal training.“The materials handling industry is experiencing immense pressure, but, in that, lies a multitude of unexplored opportunities,” said Sean Wallingford, president of warehouse solutions, North America at Vanderlande. “Due to dynamic consumer demands, companies must operate their DCs efficiently and scale quickly in peak periods.”

Alongside ADAPTO and the GtP workstations, the company also presented its Pallet AVs (autonomous vehicles) and next-gen software stack (intelligent software).

Full Article

AutoStore reveals R5+ Robot

AutoStore showcased its R5+ Robot, the company’s latest addition to its Robot fleet. Due to its ability to handle bins up to roughly 16.7 inches tall—the tallest bins that are currently available in the AutoStore system—the R5+ will allow warehouses to manage larger items.

“The beauty of innovation is that it often can be found in the simplest solutions,” said Carlos Fernández, CPO of AutoStore. “The landscape of e-commerce has fundamentally changed over the past two years, and every improvement we make to the AutoStore system is to benefit retailers in their pursuits of the best customer experiences possible.”

While using the R5+ with 16.7-inch tall bins, customers’ maximum grid height will be higher than a grid with a R5 Robot that uses 12.9-inch tall bins. As a result, a grid, comprised of 14 layers of bins and nearly 19.8 feet tall, can be created.

“The R5+ enables companies to expand their market footprint to include a wider variety of products, all while providing fast and reliable service,” Fernández added. “With the ability to incorporate larger bins, retailers can seamlessly adapt to changes in order demand, allowing them to maintain a competitive edge in their markets.”

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Berkshire Grey offers robotic system for autonomous e-commerce autobagging

Berkshire Grey, a provider of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled robotic solutions, introduced its new Robotic Pick and Pack with Identification (BG RPPi) system, which now includes auto-identification and item manipulation technology for touchless e-commerce autobagging.

The solution uses AI to discern how to optimally grasp items, holds them up for an auto-ID scan, uses AI to orientate items of various shapes and sizes for correct placement into an autobagger, then drops or places the item into the autobagger.

“This system helps retailers increase their fulfillment throughput capacity while using sustainable autobagging approaches,” said Kishore Boyalakuntla, VP of product at Berkshire Grey. “With BG RPPi for eCommerce Autobagging, we can now help retailers enable a touchless pick-to-ship fulfillment operation that is fully autonomous, thereby reducing labor dependency and increasing overall productivity.”

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Rite-Hite features various smart controls and sensors

Rite-Hite displayed a variety of smart controls and sensors that connect the company’s loading dock and in-plant equipment with its Opti-Vu smart data and analytics platform. Dok-Lok vehicle restraints can track restraint engagement time to help identify downtime between loading activities, alert dock attendants if docks are at risk to incur costly detention and demurrage charges, and monitor if the restraints are in fault mode due to misuse or faulty/missing rear-impact guards.

The OptiVu-enabled FasTrax industrial door, can track energy usage, along with operational trends, including unnecessary openings and false activations. Consequently, it helps facilities address employee behaviors and equipment issues, identifying ways to improve productivity and energy loss.

The Safe-T-Signal intersection warning system tracks traffic patterns and intersections activity, while identifying potentially dangerous areas—data that can help managers implement changes that reduce accidents.

“It’s crucial for logistics managers to have—and use—captured data to acquire operational insights, leading to enhanced efficiency and safety,” said Moiz Neemuchwala, VP of digital solutions at Rite-Hite. “That’s why our products and controls have smart technology, using sensors to capture data relevant to productivity, safety and energy.”

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