February 12, 2016
special report | Industry Events

Hot spot

Hot spot

At the Modex exhibition and conference in Atlanta, attendees can get up close and personal with sizzling new technology, equipment, and services for the supply chain.

By Susan K. Lacefield

Thinking of distribution centers as dimly lit caverns full of boxes, pallets, and racks is so 20th century. Nowadays, they are hot spots of technological innovation. Think about it: Conveyors as smart as fifth graders. Customized packaging material made on the spot. Lift trucks that can dance. Drones that can track your trailers from the sky. Glasses that can tell you what and how much to pick.

Need to keep pace with the latest and greatest technological innovations? The Modex Show organized by MHI (formerly the Material Handling Industry of America) can help. One of the largest expositions for supply chain solutions in the Americas, Modex will be showcasing products and services from more than 850 exhibitors at Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center from April 4-7.

The exhibits will cover the following categories of technologies, equipment, and services:

  • Material handling equipment and systems, which includes a broad range of products from the highly complex (like automated storage and retrieval systems and automated guided vehicle systems) to the elegantly simple (like casters, racks, and shelves).
  • Packaging, containers, and shipping equipment, which encompasses not just pallets, containers, and shrink wrap but also packaging machinery, equipment designed for the inspection of products by weight or scanning, and palletizers.
  • Inventory management and controlling technologies, which includes computers, controllers, and software programs as well as systems integrators.
  • Dock and warehouse equipment and supplies, such as dock levelers, pads, and doors; flooring; hoists; cranes; monorails; and below/hook lifting devices.
  • Consultants and distribution system planners, including simulators, modelers, and third-party logistics service providers.
  • Automatic identification equipment and systems, such as bar-code printers and scanners, radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems, vision systems, and voice recognition systems.
  • Supply chain management, which serves as a catch-all category for such products and services as alternative fuel systems, parcel management and distribution, reverse logistics, and inventory security services.

Innovation will be found not just on the show floor but also throughout the extensive educational conference that runs concurrently with the show. The conference's four keynote addresses, for example, will emphasize the themes of change and transformation.

On Monday, April 4, Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the Xprize Foundation, will deliver the opening keynote address on "How to Create a Culture of Innovation Within Your Company." According to Diamandis, companies that are characterized by traditional thinking, risk-aversion, and "incrementalism" are unable to cope with the changes brought by disruptive innovation. To survive, these companies need to find ways to recognize and reward innovative thinking and breakthroughs.

The following day, Jack Allen, senior director, logistics and manufacturing solutions, supply chain operations at Cisco, will deliver a talk on "The Connected Supply Chain." Allen will argue that next-generation supply chains will be connected and encompass all the factories, warehouses, DCs, logistics partners, suppliers, and design partners in one integrated system. He will examine the role of the Internet of Things (IoT) in creating this connected supply chain and share his insights on a "maturity curve" that companies follow as they connect nodes and systems across their supply chain.

On Wednesday, April 6, Scott Sopher, a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and national leader of the firm's Supply Chain practice, and George W. Prest, MHI's CEO, will present the "2016 Annual Industry Report." The presentation will focus on today's current supply chain realities and eight technologies that are transforming supply chains. After the presentation, the speakers will moderate a panel of manufacturing and supply chain leaders who will discuss the report's findings.

Later that day, Kevin O'Leary, star of two hit TV shows on entrepreneurship, will present "Lessons From a Dragon." O'Leary will offer a behind-the-scenes look at "Dragons' Den" and its American adaptation, "Shark Tank." Using entertaining and insightful outtakes from his shows, O'Leary will share his insights into how the industry is performing, where the innovation is coming from, and how to grow your business.

In addition to the four main sessions focusing on top-level strategic issues, the show will offer more than 100 seminars on a broad array of manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain topics, including trends, best practices, and the latest developments in equipment and technology for manufacturing, distribution, logistics, and supply chain management. These seminars will be presented in theaters located right on the show floor. This format allows attendees to learn about various manufacturing, distribution, and supply chain solutions in the educational sessions and then actually see the equipment, systems, and services that can implement those solutions. Modex 2016 will also feature a Supply Chain Education Summit that includes a variety of co-located educational events presented by more than 30 associations and universities, such as the Reusable Packaging Association, the National Center for Supply Chain Technology Education, Cranfield University, and Virginia Tech. There will be a special track on the "New Generation Supply Chain Workforce," which will look at how the supply chain industry can attract workers from demographic groups that historically haven't been heavily represented in its work force. Modex will also reach beyond the confines of the convention center to offer supply chain-focused tours of the following Atlanta-area facilities: Toto's distribution center, Kia Motors' assembly plant, PartnerTech/Scanfil's contract manufacturing facility, and the Hartsfield-Jackson aircargo facility.

Pre-registration for Modex 2016 is free online by visiting www.Modexshow.com. There is no charge to attend the exhibits, show-floor educational sessions, or Supply Chain Education Summit seminars. The website also offers exhibitor search tools, floor plans, a complete list of educational sessions, and information about travel and accommodations.

About the Author

Susan K. Lacefield
Editor at Large
Susan Lacefield has been working for supply chain publications since 1999. Before joining DC VELOCITY, she was an associate editor for Supply Chain Management Review and wrote for Logistics Management magazine. She holds a master's degree in English.

More articles by Susan K. Lacefield

Resources Mentioned In This Article

Material Handling Videos

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