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ProMat 2013 to showcase innovations in supply chain, logistics

In this pre-conference report, learn what attendees of ProMat 2013 can expect from this year's trade show.

For ProMat 2013 speakers, exhibitors and attendees gearing up for this year's trade show in Chicago, size does indeed matter -- and the numbers here are impressive. From January 21st to the 24th, over 700 exhibitors will set up booths across 300,000 square feet in McCormick Place South for North America's largest trade show around material handling, supply chain management and logistics, according to the ProMat site. site editor Brenda Cole caught up with four of the speakers and exhibitors who will be leading discussions at ProMat 2013.

Supply chain innovations and warehouse optimization on the menu

Wednesday's keynote panel, The Future of Material Handling, Logisticsand Supply Chain, should be intriguing to supply chain professionals looking to invest in technology, said Rick Blasgen, president and CEO of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) and one of the featured panelists. "I'll be addressing the latest supply chain trends and what we think will be going on in the global supply chain in the future," he said.

Blasgen predicted some interesting conversations around the latest technologies and what's available now for manufacturers to implement in their operations. "For me, anything that allows visibility throughout the entire supply chain is of interest," he said. "I think there are a lot of companies that are interested in technology and any sort of innovation that improves their efficiency, effectiveness and operations."

"Throughout this whole recessionary period, there's been a lot of money on the sidelines and people have been less interested in capital expenditures, but there is more certainty now, and I think companies are more willing to entertain those types of spending, as long as they know they'll get a return on that," Blasgen added.

Mark Kaiser, manager of distribution operations at Akron, Ohio-based Myers Tire Supply, will be playing the dual role of booth exhibitor and educational seminar presenter. He'll be presenting Optimize Your Distribution Network to Improve Service Levels While Reducing Costs, which will explain how streamlining a distribution network can reduce supply chain complexity and operating costs. Kaiser will discuss his company's experience with TransTech Consulting, which helped Myers Tire Supply optimize its warehouse operations, as well as sales and distribution centers, to improve customer service. "We took a 32-location business down to a four-location business," he said.

This will be Kaiser's first time attending ProMat. "I'm anticipating just going to the show to see what opportunities we might have to make our business operate better," Kaiser said. "I'm looking at the broad picture."

Material handling manufacturers to host educational seminars

Arlin Keck, manager engineer at material handling product manufacturer Steel King Industries in Stevens Point, Wis., is another exhibitor who will be leading a seminar at ProMat 2013. Keck is speaking at a seminar sponsored by the Rack Managers Institute (RMI) called Rack Storage -- Specification, Standards, Codes and Certification Protocols, which will cover the industry codes and standards for designing storage rack systems. He said he hopes to make a point about the complexity of manufacturing rack storage. "As you get more sophisticated equipment, the structures behind them are more elaborate. It's like comparing a set of stairs to an elevator," he said.

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Keck expects storage automation to be a hot topic at the show. "Our company is starting to move toward the automatic storage and retrieval line," he said. "From a technological point of view, we're interested in where automation trends are going for warehouse management. People need structures for automated storage and retrieval systems, and that's where we come in. Knowing the trends and where the market will be is always of interest to us."

Another scheduled exhibitor and educational seminar speaker is Tim Rowles, technical services manager at Warren, Penn.-based Superior Tire & Rubber Corp. His company is a manufacturer of polyurethane and rubber industrial components for material handling and other industries. During the seminar, Casters for Electric Pallet Jacks: Turn Your Trucks into High Performance Race Cars for Maximizing Productivity, Rowles will familiarize attendees with the potential uses of casters for electric pallet jacks.

"I'm going to be teaching people why you use casters and how you can make adjustments to casters to improve truck performance," he said.

During the trade show, Rowles hopes to learn more about new innovations manufacturers are adopting for their pallet trucks, and how those innovations are changing their expectations for tire and wheel assemblies.

Rowles has attended ProMat in the past, and has always been impressed by its attendance numbers and size. "The showroom is probably three football fields long," he said.

Follow on Twitter @ManufacturingTT.

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