This years’ record breaking ProMat tradeshow event, which was hosted in Chicago at McCormick Place, catered to over 50,000 registrants representing 178 countries. ProMat’s theme focused on everything from automation, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, industrial internet of things (IIOT), and end-to-end data transparency to warehouse management systems, lift trucks, carts, racking and conveyor and sortation systems, and of course, logistics consultants. Given that this was my first ProMat attendance and first time in Chicago, I can tell you, this was definitely an experience worth embarking on. I still light up watching autonomous and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) in action. And, did I also mention the Chicago deep dish pizza? Yes, I’m a foodie. As one of the few exhibiters to have multi-colors on their badge, each color on the badge represented an activity one participates in during the event. I my badge sported three different colors—red for exhibitor, of course, blue for speaker, and purple for student day guide.
Within the material handling and supply chain industry, preparing for ProMat happens months in advance. Exhibitors dedicate enormous amounts of time to ensure their latest and greatest product sends shockwaves throughout the industry to meet desired forecasted results. Everyone from project engineers, marketers, and sales teams put boots on ground to ensure a successful demo or booth to attract potential customers or partnerships.
Upon arriving to Chicago, I have to admit, I was curious. Curious about what the city looked like, what the food tasted like, and what was in-store for me by attending ProMat. I enjoyed meeting new people throughout the industry and greeting familiar faces. The material handling industry is small, so having a chance to see others in person, is always a pleasure. I prepared for ProMat by scheduling meetings with key contacts, reviewing documents for public speaking engagements, and determining key organizations to provide end-to-end software solution recommendations.
Moderating the Mobile Automated Group (MAG) leadership panel discussion offered me a great opportunity for increased exposure throughout the industry and to provide knowledgeable information to potential clients by helping to identify efficient operational needs. The discussion was based on optimizing vertical storage space for clients with limited expansion opportunities. Industry thought leaders provided advice on when to implement Very Narrow Aisles (VNAs) solutions, ROI expectations, and how to collaborate with the C-suite to provide the recommended solution.
The student day badge color garnered a lot of attention. Many people were confused. Some thought I was actually a student or an intern. So, you can imagine the shock on their faces when I revealed I graduated almost two decades ago. Student day is an opportunity to pay-it-forward to upcoming graduates by offering a tour during the event and help them learn more about internship and job opportunities available in the industry. The best part about volunteering for student day was sharing my path to success to show that regardless of any fears or doubts, success is achievable.
ProMat delivers manufacturing, distribution and supply chain education and solution sourcing for all attendees. Attending ProMat as an exhibitor, speaker, and student day guide, made my visit to Chicago more fulfilling. With the labor supply shifting and increased focus on sustainability, ProMat allows exhibitors to raise brand awareness, create partnerships, generate qualified leads, and attend educational sessions to increase productivity.
—Ashley Rhodes, St. Onge Company
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