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No matter the industry: The game has changed.

There's a good chance that you and your team are putting a plan together to strategically cover ProMat 2017 (April 3-6), the materials handling industry's leading trade show and educational conference, sponsored by MHI. Well, my first bit of advice is to make sure you're packing comfortable shoes.

According to reports from MHI, this year's event has attracted more than 900 exhibitors--a new record--that will be set up in both the North and South halls of Chicago's McCormick Place. All told, the event will span more than 375,000 square feet and include 100 on-show-floor educational sessions located in both halls.

And don't forget, MHI has once again co-located with Automate 2017, the largest showcase of robotic, machine vision, motion control and aligned automated technologies in the United States. So, this marks the perfect time to go "kick the tires" on some of these advanced robotic technologies that you've read about to see how they may fit into your operations.

This month in Modern, our editorial staff offers readers our official ProMat Show Planner (page 30). We highlight the event's four keynote speakers; offer details about the on-floor sessions; explore the two new solution centers focused on autonomous vehicles and sustainable facility solutions; and share a full schedule of the MHI Industry Group education sessions that will be taking place in the South hall.

However, this month's planner just scratches the surface of our coverage. Next month we'll offer the most comprehensive collection of products on the show floor. With so many options, you may find it useful to find a few key solutions in advance to help pinpoint the areas of the show you'd like to explore.

Of course, it's also helpful to take a look inside some of the nation's most innovative distribution centers to see how many of the solutions you'll find at ProMat are being put to work--let's call it a little pre-show inspiration.

Starting on page 20, executive editor Bob Trebilcock takes us to Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Vision Care's 200,000-square-foot DC in Jacksonville, Fla., a facility that's successfully pieced together a number of the same automated technologies used by leaders in e-commerce fulfillment, including automated storage and goods-to-person picking.

"In fact, J&J may just be the ideal innovation story to put readers in the right state of mind before the show," says Trebilcock. "You don't think of the contact lens industry as coming under the same pressures as brick-and-mortar retail, but customer expectations have changed--regardless of the industry."

According to Trebilcock, J&J met the service expectation challenge with a very strategic approach to automation. "J&J has always put innovation first, so automated storage and goods-to-person picking was not their first foray into automation," he says. "Instead, they looked at how they could bring in new, innovative technology to meet the changing needs of their customer base--and do it in a way that is scalable and can be extended across their network."

It's become clear: No matter the industry, the game has changed. Now it's time to put the pieces together to meet whatever challenge is thrown your way.




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Author:Levans, Michael
Publication:Modern Materials Handling
Article Type:Conference notes
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2017
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