March 14, 2017
special report | Industry Events

ProMat '17 and the X factor

ProMat '17 and the X factor

Looking to solve for your X—that unknown quantity that will take your supply chain to the next level? Chances are, you'll find it among ProMat's 850-plus exhibits.

By DC Velocity Staff

As William Shakespeare observed several centuries ago, sometimes all the stars align in mysterious yet favorable ways. That will be the case on April 5, when luminaries from the worlds of pro sports, comedy, and logistics/material handling converge on Chicago's McCormick Place. What will draw them there is ProMat 2017, the nation's largest exhibition of material handling, supply chain, and logistics equipment, systems, and technologies. As for the role those luminaries will play, Magic Johnson will deliver one of the show's keynotes, "The Power of Magic"; Dana Carvey will entertain the crowd at "MHI Industry Night"; and suppliers of the latest in supply chain innovations and technologies will be on hand to display their wares.

Organized by MHI, the nation's largest material handling, logistics, and supply chain association, the biennial ProMat Show opens April 3 and runs through April 6. This year's edition is expected to draw visitors from more than 110 countries. What brings them there? George Prest, MHI's CEO, says they come to ProMat "to solve for their X—that unknown quantity that will take their supply chain to the next level."

They'll have a lot of options to choose from. More than 850 exhibitors will be on hand to showcase their products and services. The exhibits will cover the following categories of technologies, equipment, and services:

Material Handling and Logistics Equipment and Systems: Automated storage and retrieval systems, automatic guided vehicle systems, racks, batteries, lift trucks, conveyors, mezzanines, lift tables, ergonomic and safety equipment, carousels, order picking, sortation equipment, and much more.

Packaging, Containers, and Shipping Equipment: Box and carton makers, dunnage trays, packaging and unitizing systems, wrapping, systems for inspection of products by weight or scanning, pallets, wire baskets, plastic and metal containers, and palletizing equipment.

Inventory Management, Information Technology, and Controlling Technologies: Computers, controllers, systems integrators, manufacturing execution systems, warehouse management systems/supply chain and logistics execution systems, wireless control systems, and voice recognition systems.

Dock and Warehouse Equipment and Supplies: Dock levelers, dock pads, doors, forklift trucks, racks, flooring, handling systems, forklift attachments, conveyors, hoists, cranes, monorails, loading dock equipment, and below/hook lifting devices.

Consultants and Distribution System Planners: Simulators, modelers, system designers, distribution consultants, and third-party logistics services.

Automatic Identification Equipment and Systems: Bar-code printers and scanners, vision systems, voice recognition systems, radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems, and systems integrators.

Logistics and Supply Chain Management: Alternative fuel systems, parcel management, reverse logistics, third-party logistics services, supply chain and logistics execution systems, enterprise resource planning systems, transportation management systems, and inventory security services.

Autonomous Vehicles: Automated storage and retrieval systems, automatic guided vehicle systems, driverless trucks, delivery and data collection drones, and automated crane technologies.

Sustainable Facility Solutions: Alternative and renewable energy and fuel systems, recyclable packaging and shipping materials, energy-efficient lighting, high-volume/low-speed (HVLS) fans, energy-efficient equipment and sensors, daylighting technologies, and sustainable facility planning.


In addition to the exhibition, ProMat will include an extensive educational conference that runs concurrently with the show. Educational events include four keynote presentations as well as more than 100 expert-led seminars held right on the show floor during the exhibition. New this year is a "women in supply chain" summit. Scheduled for noon to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4, the event is billed as an afternoon of discussion, education, and networking for women in the industry. (A separate fee and registration are required. Go to for more info.)

The ProMat keynote presentations will offer a glimpse of the future and insights into ways to gain a competitive edge in your market. On Monday, April 3, from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Andrew Winston, an expert on sustainability and author of Green to Gold, will lead a panel discussion with manufacturing and supply chain sustainability leaders that have successfully incorporated environmentally sound practices into their facility design and operations. Panelists will discuss how companies both large and small can use environmental strategy to grow, create enduring value, and build stronger supply chains.

On Tuesday, April 4, from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Markus Lorenz, partner and managing director of the Boston Consulting Group, will discuss how intelligent machines are transforming supply chains. During this keynote, Lorenz will explore the many ways this revolution will affect our industry and the economy, and what kinds of new jobs it will create.

On Wednesday, April 5, from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Scott Sopher, principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP's Supply Chain practice, will join George W. Prest, CEO of MHI, in presenting the findings of the "2017 Annual Industry Report" from MHI. The report will focus on the supply chain trends and technologies that are creating digital supply chains.

Later that day, from 1 to 2 p.m., National Basketball Association (NBA) legend, two-time Hall of Famer, Olympic gold medalist, and now entrepreneur Earvin "Magic" Johnson will join DC Velocity Group Editorial Director Mitch Mac Donald for a "fireside chat." In the session, Johnson will reveal the secrets to his business and personal success (hint: always over-deliver on customer expectations).

The keynotes will serve as the gateway to some 100 expert-led sessions covering industry issues like supply chain visibility, ergonomics, and worker safety and the equipment and technology solutions that address these and other concerns. The sessions, which run concurrently with the show, take place in specially designed theaters constructed on the show floor. This format allows attendees to learn about various material handling and logistics solutions in the educational sessions and then actually see the equipment and systems that can implement those solutions.

Also on tap this year are a "meet and greet" for young professionals, which will be held on Tuesday, April 4, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., and MHI Industry Night at ProMat, an evening of music, food, drinks, and entertainment by actor and Emmy Award-winning comedian Dana Carvey. Industry Night will be held on Wednesday, April 5. Tickets to this event are on sale at, and a portion of ticket sales will be donated to the Material Handling Education Foundation Inc. (MHEFI). The door prize for the event is a $30,000 trip of a lifetime.

A special bonus for ProMat attendees: Automate, a robotics, machine vision, and motion-control event, is once again co-located with ProMat in 2017.

Pre-registration for ProMat 2017 is free online by visiting There is no charge to attend the exhibits, keynotes, or show-floor educational sessions. The website also offers exhibitor search tools, floor plans, details on the educational conference, and travel and hotel information.

Resources Mentioned In This Article

Material Handling Videos

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