It was a typical third day at Pack Expo as the annual packaging and material handling event ended its run in Las Vegas Wednesday. Being able to use the word “typical” indicates how well the show went for attendees and vendors.
While traffic slowed down and exhibitors prepared to pack up their displays, there was a sense that the event was a success even beyond the realm of being able to stage it safely. Health and safety protocols were everywhere, assuring the normal business of this event could proceed.
With a lot of pent-up excitement because the show was forced to skip 2020, vendors reported positive traffic and enthusiastic attendees. One vendor reported that an attendee offered to buy the exhibited conveyor solution right off the show floor. Another vendor had a machine on the show floor priced to sell on the spot.
The enthusiasm extended to staff and hotel workers around Las Vegas. In the media center, one of the food service workers even stopped to thank a member of the press just for showing up.
If the 20-month hiatus from live trade events has caused some to rely more on digital meetings and video chats to conduct business, the success at Pack Expo also emphasized that a handshake—sanitized for your protection of course—still have enormous power.
Vendors Showcase Some New Concepts
There were a number of new concepts introduced at the show, from major suppliers anxious to accelerate digital transformation and pump up the use of robotics on the plant floor:
Siemens discussed a number of use cases for its SIMATIC Robot Integrator, which is design to create a uniform engineering and operations environment while working with a growing number of major robotics brands. The goal is to standardize robotics controls across a facility that may have different robots from different vendors performing different tasks.
This is an important issue, as Siemens presented industry data showing the growth of robotic installations in the last decade. There has been a nearly five-fold increase in Asia in the last 10 years.
ABB displayed a series of robotic solutions built around its partnership with Covariant, an AI technology company. The partnership’s goal, according to a company press release, is “to bring AI-enabled robotics solutions to market, starting with a fully autonomous warehouse order fulfilment solution.” ABB cited figures that shows that e-commerce revenue, which already has enjoyed explosive growth during the pandemic, is expected to increase another 50% within the next five years to $3 trillion worldwide.
“Our partnership with Covariant is part of our strategy to expand into new growth sectors such as distribution and e-commerce and to leverage the scaling potential in these fields,” said Sami Atiya, president of ABB’s Robotics and Discrete Automation business, in a press release.
It perfectly complements our offering and adds to our aim to be the number one choice in robotics solutions for our customers. Through the combination of artificial intelligence with our robots, we are opening an entire new field of opportunities and applications for a variety of industries.”