ProMat 2013, which took place Jan. 21-24 at McCormick Place in Chicago, gave attendees an inside look at some of the newest supply chain solutions provided by material handling and logistics equipment manufacturers. Sponsored by the Material Handling Institute (MHI), Charlotte, N.C., the four-day event included five educational tracks, 100 show floor seminars covering everything from managing reusable packaging assets to warehouse automation to facility planning, and three keynote speeches delivered by Henrik I. Christensen, KUKA chair of robotics and director of robotics at Georgia Tech, Atlanta; Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media, New York; and Edie Weiner, president of Weiner, Edrich, Brown Inc., New York. The 30,000-square-foot show floor was filled with nearly 800 exhibitors showcasing their productivity solutions for manufacturing and assembly, fulfillment and delivery, and information technology.

The following are highlights from some of the beverage-related companies that exhibited at ProMat 2013.

AeroGo Inc., Seattle, introduced its LoadRunner device for moving loads as heavy as 2,500 pounds throughout a warehouse using on-board compressed air to “float” the load across the floor.  This quiet, emission-free movement method reduces friction and requires less operator effort to move the load, the company says.

Air Liquide Group, Houston, discussed its hydrogen power solutions for fuel cells for electric trucks and highlighted its partnership with PlugPower, Latham, N.Y., a fuel cell provider.

AmbaFlex Inc., Grand Prairie, Texas, showcased its line of SpiralVeyor multi-level spiral elevators.

ARPAC, Schiller Park, Ill., featured its Electro Wrap floor-mounted, two-station automatic pallet stretch wrapper and Sidewinder 4 Wrap-N-Weigh heavy-duty pallet stretch wrapper with a 4,000-pound capacity.

Barcoding Inc., Baltimore, publicized its major partners, including Savant Software, Phoenix;, Mississauga, Ontario; and Motorola Solutions, Holtsville, N.Y., and their products, including barcoding, inventory management and warehouse management software; mobile computers; and radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. The company also explained how it integrates this technology into barcoding solutions for its customers. It also displayed barcode printers to showcase printing options.  

Big Ass Fans, Lexington, Ky., displayed some of its industrial and commercial warehouse fans including its Yellow Jacket durable, portable, mountable fan and its Powerfoil X 2.0, an overhead fan with a fully sealed gear box that keeps out corrosives for greater durability. It also demonstrated its iPad interface that allows an operator to control fan speed via the portable device.

Big Joe Forklifts, Lombard, Ill., introduced its Big Joe J1 “Joey” task support vehicle that can lift an operator 126 inches from the floor to perform overhead maintenance, order picking and other tasks at that height or lower, the company says. Designed as an alternative to rolling ladders, the operator can drive the vehicle through narrow aisles while carrying necessary equipment and products in its front-load tray and storable rear tray.

Clark Material Handling Co., Lexington, Ky., showcased its line of trucks, including its CTX tugger battery-powered trucks, industrial burden carriers with multiple seat and cargo configurations, GEX four-wheeled electric forklifts, OSX 15 electric order pickers with a small turn radius for narrow aisle maneuverability, man-down turret trucks with 180-degree fork movement for narrow aisle maneuverability, a C32C internal combustion forklift, walkie riders, low-lift pallet trucks and pallet jacks. It also displayed a pink C25 pneumatic sit-down forklift truck to represent the company’s interest in philanthropy and support of the Lexington, Ky., Susan G. Komen chapter for breast cancer awareness.   

Columbia Machine Inc., Vancouver, Wash., highlighted its fully and semi-automatic load transfer stations and palletizing solutions.

Combilift Ltd., County Monaghan, Ireland, celebrated its 15th anniversary while at the show and highlighted its line of multi-directional forklifts and side loaders.

Dematic, Grand Rapids, Mich., introduced three high-density storage solutions to increase warehouse efficiencies and reduce costs, the company says. Its deep-lane pallet storage on-floor solution with automated guided vehicles (AGVs) uses a fork-style AGV to stage pallet loads on the warehouse floor and arrange them in lanes that are multiple pallets deep with the help of a periscope design to move the laser head above load obstructions, it says. It also features adjustable forks for precision control for depositing and picking pallets, it adds. The deep-lane pallet storage in-rack solution with AGVs uses a fork-style AGV to transport pallets to the deep-lane rack structure up to a 40-foot clear height and deposit the load in the first rack position, it says. The system also uses a satellite shuttle device to lift, transport and position the pallet in the deep-lane rack, it adds. The deep-lane pallet storage in-rack solution with storage-and-retrieval machines (SRMs) uses dedicated SRMs in each aisle to improve density and throughput, it says.

Egemin Automation Inc., Holland, Mich., displayed its Hybrid E’gv material handling vehicles. These guided vehicles provide fully automated laser guidance and manual material handling transport within manufacturing, warehousing and distribution environments to increase productivity and profitability, the company says. 

Emerson Industrial Automation, Florence, Ky., demonstrated its heavy-duty modular belts, which can handle more than 5,000 pounds per foot, and table-top chain conveyor, which is quieter and more reliable than live roller conveyors, the company says.

EnVista, Carmel, Ind., unveiled its Facility Design Build practice at the show. The new practice will allow the company to offer data-driven, return on investment (ROI)-supported solutions to handle physical building construction, storage media, automation, software, operational processes, training, startup, and all of the areas in between through one streamlined provider, the company says.

Flexcon, Berkeley Heights, N.J., featured its cost-effective plastic containers, pallets, laser cut dividers and packaging solutions.

FreeBox, a division of System Logistics, Lewiston, Maine, highlighted its free rotating storage (FRS) shuttle system, palletizing solutions and automatic order pickers.

Gorbel Inc., Fishers, N.Y., featured its free-standing enclosed-track Gorbel Work

Station Crane, new G-Force Force Sensing Handle, and a free-standing Easy Arm Intelligent Lifting Device.

Hyster Co., Greenville, N.C., showcased some of its electric rider, end rider and walkie products for warehouse operations, including its E45-70XN lift truck line, which debuted at the show. These trucks are equipped with a turret head that allows the operator to deposit loads on either side of the truck, which is ideal for narrow aisles, the company says. It also unveiled its environmental package for electric lift trucks, EPA Tier IV Final-compliant engine solution, Hyster Tracker wireless monitoring system for asset management, and Hyster Certified Remanufactured lift trucks, which come with a factory-backed, one-year, 2,000-hour warranty.

ID Technology, Fort Worth, Texas, highlighted its printer applications for Datamax printers and discussed its full range of labeling solutions, including its Model 252CTL case taper labeler, which can accommodate a wide range of box widths and heights in a 7-foot footprint and includes a user interface for easy programming as well as a plasma-coated air-assist tube that eliminates label sticking, the company says.

Intella Liftparts Inc., Holland, Mich., displayed its Blue Safety Light feature for added warehouse safety. This product can be used in conjunction with traditional backup alarms to alert pedestrians, who might be listening to music, talking on the phone or talking over the radio, of a forklift’s movement, thus helping to reduce forklift/pedestrian accidents, the company says.

Intelligrated Inc., Mason, Ohio, demonstrated some of its latest conveyor and sortation technologies, order fulfillment systems, and software and services including its Real Time Solutions order fulfillment systems for picking, putting and mobile cart order fulfillment applications.

Intralox, New Orleans, highlighted its activated roller belt technology that offers gentle product handling to palletize, depalletize and sort a variety of cases, totes, polybags and more, the company says.  

ITW Muller, Arlington Heights, Ill., demonstrated its stretch-wrap equipment, such as its Octopus S series automatic rotary stretch wrapper and 87M Yellow Jacket Orbital Stretch Wrap Machine. The Octopus includes a No Touch-No Tail seaming device, which doesn’t touch the product and also wraps it without leaving a tail, thus preventing unwanted unwrapping, as well as a pop-up conveyor that allows the machine to wrap the product to the pallet to avoid shifting during storage or transportation, the company says. The Yellow Jacket is available in manual or semi-automatic versions and is ideal for securing oversized, oddly shaped palletized loads on a forklift, it says.

ITW Warehouse Automation, Arden, N.C., displayed its Storfast cart-based automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS), which uses an end-lift to bring product to a desired level and then passes it to a cart that delivers it to the proper location, allowing for faster, more efficient storage and retrieval, the company says. It also highlighted its Vertique case-picking system and robotic VTP palletizers.

Jungheinrich, a division of Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America, Houston, demonstrated its newest warehouse navigation technology at the show. Visitors had the opportunity to drive its EKX 515 man-up turret truck to gain first-hand experience of its order-picking and full-pallet-retrieval capabilities. The lift truck is guided by RFID transponders to allow for narrow-aisle navigation, increased productivity and accuracy, and improved operator safety, the company says. The company also highlighted its ECR 326/336 series of electric end rider pallet trucks and introduced its Parts Fast or Parts Free Guarantee program, which promises that all Jungheinrich customers in North America will receive ordered parts within 24 hours or the product and its freight are free. 

Komatsu ForkLift USA, Rolling Meadows, Ill., launched its Hydrostatic Drive 9,000-, 10,000- and 11,000-pound capacity forklifts and showcased its AM50 Series of compact three-wheel electric Total AC forklifts, BX50 Series of engine-powered forklifts and FR Series of electric, narrow-aisle, alternating current (AC)-powered reach trucks.

Ladder Industries, Goodyear, Ariz., showcased its JiffyRail Mezzanine Guard Rail, its line of Conveyor Crossovers and a standard Rolastair access ladder.

Manhattan Associates, Atlanta, featured its warehouse management, labor and transportation software.

Minit Charger, a division of San Francisco-based Ecotality Inc., launched its Minit Charger 12 electric truck charger for the intermediate motive market at the show. This sequential charging solution offers a fast, safe charge for batteries with 24 to 80 volts direct current (DC) and can send critical charge and battery data to a central server for remote monitoring, the company says.

Motorola Solutions Inc., showcased its latest wireless and mobile technology for warehouses and distribution centers including its Wearwolf hands-free voice-picking wrist device; vehicle-mounted computers for forklifts; rugged radios; tablets; cellular communications devices and applications; RFID products; vehicle management systems; route delivery technology; and industrial wireless networks. Along with its newly acquired Psion arm, the company also launched the AP 6562, a dual-radio 802.11n access point in an IP67 outdoor-rated housing, and the Omni XT15ni, a rugged handheld device designed for hazardous conditions.

Murata Machinery USA Inc., Charlotte, N.C., demonstrated the newest addition to its AS/RS line: the FX Quad Mini-Load AS/RS, which offers flexible multiple-case handling and high-density storage operations through a mini-load crane. It also demonstrated its Premex SLX AGV, which offers high speed and flexible travel with a minimal turning radius for traveling through tight spaces along with Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) technology for navigation and the ability to work in minus 13-degree Fahrenheit temperatures.

Nilfisk-Advance Inc., Plymouth, Minn., launched its Advance CS7000 Combination Sweeper-Scrubber Fuel Cell for industrial applications. Running solely on hydrogen, the sweeper-scrubber provides 100-percent indoor emission-free operation for one-pass cleaning power and enhanced cleaning capabilities, the company says. Plus, its rapid refuel capabilities with no recharge cycle allow for 24/7 operation, it says. 

Opex Corp., Moorestown, N.J., introduced its Perfect Pick solution for warehouse automation. The one-touch system uses iBots, which are intelligent, wireless vehicles that travel around storage racks at rates as fast as 1,000 dual-cycles an hour picking and stocking inventory simultaneously and delivering totes or trays directly to the picking station located at one or both ends of the aisle, the company says. 

Orbis, Oconomowoc, Wis., displayed its sustainable, hygienic pallets, divider sheets and top frames for storing and transporting beverage cans as well as its recycled and recyclable plastic shells and pallets, shelf bins, retail-ready displays and collapsible bulk containers. Orbis cleans all of its reusable pallets, divider sheets, frames and shells and tracks them using SmartTrack technology for continued use through multiple cycles, it says.

The pointGuard, a division of United Pallet Services, Modesto, Calif., introduced its newly patented pointGuard pallet protector for the first time to the public. The pointGuard was tested at Virginia Tech and shown to increase the life of a wooden pallet by five times or more, the company says.

Polymer Solutions International, Hartland, Wis., displayed its Radiopaque ProStack Pallets, which are opaque to X-ray and fluoroscopic imaging and suitable for use in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries, the company says.

The Raymond Corp., Greene, N.Y., introduced its iWarehouse Essential and iWarehouse Enterprise solutions that provide access control and monitor lift truck data in real time, allowing managers to increase visibility of assets and labor, the company says. The Enterprise edition also allows managers to view actionable data and identify opportunities for optimization, it adds.

Rehrig Pacific Co., Los Angeles, showcased its KegRack Delivery System, which allows drivers to store kegs in the horizontal position for easy identification and picking, and its EZ Pal One-Touch ergonomic delivery system. 

Ripack, Elk Grove Village, Ill., introduced its Ripack 3000 heat-shrink gun, which features 283,000 British thermal units (BTUs) of power, a 360-degree nozzle for ease of use, and extension wands for greater reach.

Ryson International, Yorktown, Va., displayed its high-capacity spiral conveyors, which can handle 75 pounds for each linear foot for speeds as fast as 200 feet a minute, and multi-entry spirals that allow product to enter the spirals from several different elevations, it says.

Siemens Industry Inc., Alpharetta, Ga., introduced its Simogear high-efficiency geared motor series with helical parallel shaft and helical bevel gear unit types with integral high-efficient and National Electrical Manufacturers Association Premium efficient motors to meet the requirements of modern conveyor systems, the company says. It also released its single-axis Sinamics V20 inverter for operating pumps, fans, compressors and conveyor systems as well as simple drive tasks in the processing and handling industries including bottle washing and filling as well as case packing, it says. It also highlighted its line of Simatic S7-1500 controllers for mid- to high-level automation applications as well as its use of RFID technology in the nameplates on its equipment to allow managers and operators to easily identify what part is in what machine and easily audit company assets, it adds.

Swisslog, Newport News, Va., premiered its Click&Pick storage and high-speed order fulfillment system. Click&Pick uses robotic technology to maintain control of inventory and offers an ergonomic warehouse worker interface to achieve 1,000 picks for each selector an hour, the company says. It also announced its new technology alliance with TotalTrax Inc., Newport, Del., to better integrate fork truck solutions with software into automation projects., New York, demonstrated its free online resource for buyers and engineers to help them find suppliers, products and 3-D computer-aided design (CAD) drawings based on multiple different criteria to suit their needs. The company also highlighted its marketing, syndication, Web development, online catalog and e-commerce services.  

Voxware Inc., Hamilton, N.J., showcased its new cloud-based voice software solution, Cloud VMS, and provided hands-on experience for visitors with its VoxPilot and VoxStudio solutions.

Westfalia Technologies Inc., York, Pa., highlighted the value offering that an AS/RS offers in terms of creating more space in a facility and automating throughput. During the show, it also launched a revamped website with a cleaner user interface, improved structure and navigation, and a new interactive warehouse feature that allows users to scroll over key features of an automated warehouse and discover how Westfalia products can assist with such automation, the company says.

 Yale Materials Handling Corp., Greenville, N.C., introduced its MO25 center rider lift truck for second-level order picking, which features electronic power steering, automatic speed reduction and an operator-sensing floor mat. It also unveiled its Certified Remanufactured Program, which offers certified remanufactured trucks with a one-year, 2,000-hour warranty. In addition, the company showcased Yale Vision, its fleet management system that tracks lift truck operations for energy efficiency, safety and usage while allowing managers to control who can operate each truck and receive alerts via email, mobile phone or on a monitor, among other features. Also on display were its MPE080VG end rider with enhanced rollers and entry bar for better pallet entry and exit as well as voice-directed picking technology and its ESC three-wheel stand-up and ERP-VT sit-down trucks with side-shifting fork positioners that allow the operator to adjust load and fork positioning for various pallet sizes without leaving the operator compartment, the company says.