Manufacturing and supply chain professionals converged March 9-12 on Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center as they came together for MODEX 2020 to find new equipment and technology solutions, gain knowledge and network with industry peers to solve common supply chain challenges.

Based on the information from the WHO, CDC and local authorities at the time with regard to COVID-19, the MODEX 2020 expo was held with 894 exhibits covering 355,790 net square feet. Adding in show floor theaters and networking areas, the total gross footprint of the MODEX show floor was 900,000 square feet. While registrations for MODEX totaled 33,460, representing an 8 percent increase over MODEX 2018, actual attendance was 49 percent of that total due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Because of the number of registered attendees who could not attend MODEX, a virtual MODEX 365 experience became available in mid-April.

Many suppliers to the beverage industry were on-site for the physical event in early March. Below are some of the highlights:

Fairfield, N.J.-based DMW&H showcased two innovative pieces of technology for the beverage industry to compliment a progressive material-handling solution. First, the DLS Dispenser, which is an automated system for full case order fulfillment, specifically for high-volume SKUs. Buffering and dispensing is integrated into a single solution. Second, the i-Pack Enhanced Manual Palletizing Station, is a semi-automated palletizing united that is a comprehensive blend of automation and manual labor. An operator stands on an elevated platform and ergonomically down stacks cases from a conveyor at waist level into a palletizing shaft. The i-Pack automatically stretch-wraps the pallet as it fills and replaced the completed pallet with a new empty one when finished.

Doosan Industrial Vehicle America Corp., Buford, Ga., showcased its newest power hitters at Modex 2020. Made with the operator in mind, Doosan launched two critical material handling equipment pieces that will power up the food and beverage industry. The Stand Up Rider, great for dock to stock work, is a great addition to your warehousing line-up. A Walkie Rider Pallet Jack can give your operators confidence handling multiple pallets with ease while navigating the warehouse.

Cincinnati-based Honeywell Intelligrated showcased forward-thinking innovations in workforce optimization, robotic integration and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connectivity in the distribution and fulfillment space. The interactive booth demonstrations featured a variety of solutions to help distribution centers (DCs) of all sizes make the digital transformation necessary to increase reliability, improve utilization and maximize productivity. At its booth, the company’s operations and solutions development team walked through a 3D DC design simulation, including an overview of the entire system and key automation components, such as high-density automatic storage and receiving systems (AS/RS), goods-to-operator (GTO) and goods-to-robot (GTR) workstations, pick and place robotics, autonomous mobile robots (AMR) and sortation.

Interroll, Wilmington, N.C., a manufacturer of conveyor and drum motor solutions that are highly hygienic (up to IP69k), highlighted a range of solutions at the show. Among them was its Modular Conveyor Platform (MCP), which is a complete collection of modular components to serve food production, food processing and food logistics applications. Interroll also offers conveyors for chilled and wash-down applications and proprietary lagging around the drum motor, which is crucial in driving industry food belts. The company also promoted drum motors for food production and processing with the highest hygiene standards.

Raymond, Greene, N.Y., showcased numerous products and solutions focused on optimizing space, equipment and labor to help customers determine their readiness, analyze priorities and identify the best path for implementing automated solutions. On display was its Raymond Lean Management (RLM) procedures, which can optimize a warehouse by standardizing work, tracking KPIs and helping to make continuous improvements. Also showcased was the Raymond Virtual Reality Simulator, an innovative training technology used to ensure talent is being efficiently and effectively trained. Raymond also showcased several different technologies to help identify inefficiencies in an operation, including its iWAREHOUSE scalable intelligent warehouse solutions and Tracking Location Systems, which together provide telematics data and metrics on truck and operator behaviors.

Yorktown, Va.-based Ryson International promoted its new Wide Trak Spiral conveyors designed to handle a variety of small and large load sizes with 30- and 36-inch wide slats. Designed to handle double the weight capacity and create an elevation change of as much as 50 feet with a single drive, the conveyor also can start and stop fully loaded and run at speeds of up to 200 feet a minute, the company says. The conveyors also feature customizable configuration options and load entrance and exit at several intermediate elevations.

Glenview, Ill.-based Signode showcased its Octopus “C” automatic rotary ring stretch wrapper, it says. The Octopus “C” comes equipped with Signode’s patented Easy “S” Film Carriage, which enables simple film loading, maximizes pre-stretch performance and minimizes wear, it says. Compared with traditional “W” wrap systems, the positive contact of the “S” wrap pattern improves pre-stretch levels, can better handle a variety of films, and significantly lowers the overall cost of ownership, it adds. The machine can wrap up to 40 loads an hour depending on load size and wrap pattern. With options like OctoFACE operator interface touchscreen, ring frame maintenance locking system, low film alarm and external grace port, the “C” series Octopus has many of the same versatile and performance enhancing features of higher speed models. Modular components like a load stabilizer, roping device and pallet lift device are also available, making the machine easily adaptable to a wide range of applications.

Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Universal Robots (UR) showcased its collaborative robot arms in new applications, giving attendees hands-on experience with the next generation of automation solutions for the supply chain. After its success at MODEX 2018, UR brought back its RightPick2 platform, which features an intelligent gripper, a vision system, control software and a UR5e cobot handling the “3Rs”; the widest Range of products at high Rate and Reliability. The UR booth also displayed the Quick Deployment Kit (QDK) a collaborative, accurate and scalable solution for parcel induction, case packing, and goods-to-person tasks developed by MDCI Automation. Utilizing a powerful vision engine powered by PlusOne’s PickOne Software and Universal Robots’ UR10e cobot arm, the QDK identifies the pick points for items in a pick zone and sends the points to the UR cobot that picks and places each item onto a place zone/conveyor.

Van der Graaf (VDG), Brampton, Ontario, displayed its new design VDG drum motor, featuring a more efficient electric motor, new gear reducers that yield a higher service factor, and an improved sealing system to eliminate oil leaks. The new drum motor has a significantly higher efficiency, where all components are designed for a lifetime of 80,000 hours of continuous operation before maintenance. For beverage industry applications that require low profile conveyors with minimum transfer distance, VDG showcased the recently developed TM80, a new sanitary drum motor with a 3-inch diameter, along with its new  IronGrip lagging, which addresses the issue of uneven lagging wear, which results in belt tracking issues.

Westfalia, York, Pa., highlighted the importance of WMS/WCS applications for the beverage industry. The company offers Savanna.NET, a complete warehouse execution system that coordinates various types of automated handling equipment. As users generate orders for fulfillment, Savanna.NET efficiently breaks the orders into logical units of work and then utilizes its robust warehouse control functionality to direct automated material handling equipment and/or manual labor to execute the work. The sophistication of the Savanna.NET WES enables an organization to utilize its automation and warehouse personnel more efficiently, deliver better storage utilization, increase inventory accuracy, vastly improved product traceability, while also allowing for customizations to accommodate specific warehousing needs, the company says.