Kampan Butshi/Dreamstime and Tanida Ruangsawat/Dreamstime
Line graphics depicting a robotic arm, with 5 for Friday logo

5 for Friday: The Question at ProMat: Automation or Humans? Also, Designing For Manufacturing, Assembly—and Excellence

March 24, 2023

1. The Warehouse Space Race

Fresh off a week at the International Fluid Power Exposition in Las Vegas, I jumped right back to the trade show floor Monday and Tuesday this week at ProMat in Chicago. The four-day event might have been pegged as “just a material handling show” in past years, but the event proved to be a real convergence of technologies such as robotics and automation and a debut of systems designed to expand the capabilities of manufacturing’s supply chain.

The reason is simple: There is an urgent need for logistics, warehouse and material handling professionals. While acknowledging this, suppliers are responding with increased automation offerings in all forms: AGVs, AGMs, self-guided lift trucks, automated pick-and-place, advanced motion control, cobots and digital warehouse management.

This problem will either be solved by technology or people, but it’s going to need to be solved. One estimate shows warehouse space growing from 25 billion sq ft to 30 billion sq ft by 2030.

2. DFMA on Demand

For those of you who couldn’t attend the launch of our latest Engineering Academy event on March 23, or if you’d like a chance to share the content with your colleagues, the sessions on Design for Manufacturing and Assembly are now available on demand. Click here to access the event.

3. Design for Excellence

Of course, the real goal of design is excellence. Defining what excellence really means can be difficult, but our recent article on Design for Excellence (DfX) provided a surprisingly simple formula.

“These days, DfX is oftentimes used as a buzzword, as if it involves some rocket science and formulas,” Titu Botos, CEO of the Toronto-based NeuronicWorks Inc. told Editor-in-Chief Rehana Begg recently. “In fact, it is a down-to-earth, concrete set of practices and knowledge about the capabilities of the manufacturing process.”

4. The IT/OT Convergence

The underlying themes at ProMat, in our Engineering Academy sssessions and in the concept of DfX all require the seamless cooperation of the design and operations teams before the first plan is conceived. This “IT/OT Convergence” is another industry buzzword, but its achievable goals of better productivity, safety and resource management are essential to growing manufacturing and competing in a global landscape.

The foundation for achieving higher operation efficiencies is the convergence of OT and IT to uncover actionable insights,” writes Rahul Garg of Siemens Industry Software in a new Machine Design article online this week. “Using the wealth of data generated by factory operations technology (OT) from edge sensors and smart equipment, information technology (IT) can then store, retrieve, process, analyze and recommend action based on that digital data. 

5. Hannover Messe Preview

I’ve made little secret about my affection for Hannover Messe, the international industrial trade event to be held April 17-21 in Hannover, Germany. This is my most useful week of the year, and there already is plenty of buzz about major innovation announcements planned for next month.

I was honored to be asked to attend the annual Hannover Messe press preview last month. It also was my first time back on the fairgrounds in four years, and it felt good to be home. I shared some of my observations from the press preview, and colleague Alix Paultre captured other pre-show innovations presented for the global press in attendance.

I’ll be part of the Machine Design team on the ground in Hannover that week to capture the sights and sounds of this event. In the meantime, we’ll share some more previews for this event as the show approaches.

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