March 20, 2019
special report | Industry Events

ProMat '19: Come for the show, stay for the "Wow"

Looking to find your Wow—that trend or technology that will take your supply chain to the next level? Chances are, you'll find it among ProMat's 1,000-plus exhibits.

By DC Velocity Staff

To see the hottest new tech gadgets, you go to CES. To kick the tires on the latest cars, you head for the Detroit auto show. And if you want a close-up view of the latest logistics/material handling innovations, the place to go is ProMat, the nation's largest exhibition of material handling, supply chain, and logistics equipment, systems, and technologies.

Organized by the material handling/logistics/supply chain trade association MHI, the ProMat Show is held every other year at Chicago's McCormick Place. The 2019 event, which takes place April 8 through 11, is expected to draw visitors from more than 115 countries.

What brings them there? George Prest, MHI's CEO, says they come to ProMat "to find their Wow—that trend or technology that will take their supply chain to the next level of success."

They'll have a lot of options to choose from. More than 1,000 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 equipment and systems: Automated storage and retrieval systems, automatic guided vehicle systems, racks, forklifts, batteries, conveyors and sortation equipment, scissor lifts, carousels, and much more.

Packaging, containers, and shipping equipment: Box and carton makers, packaging machinery, systems for the inspection of products by weight or scanning, pallets, plastic and metal containers, and more.

Inventory management and controlling technologies: Computers, controllers, systems integrators, manufacturing execution systems, supply chain and logistics execution systems, and enterprise resource planning systems.

Dock and warehouse equipment and supplies: Dock levelers, dock pads, doors, forklift trucks, racks, flooring, handling systems, conveyors, hoists, cranes, monorails, and more.

Consultants and distribution system planners: Simulators, modelers, system designers, distribution consultants, and reverse logistics 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.

Supply chain management: Alternative fuel systems, parcel management and distribution, reverse logistics, third-party logistics, supply chain and logistics execution systems, and inventory security services.

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

Autonomous vehicles: Automated storage and retrieval systems, automatic guided vehicles, driverless trucks, delivery and inventory drones, and automated cranes.


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. Also on the agenda are a women in supply chain summit and a one-day overhead crane safety conference. (Separate fees and registration are required for the women's summit and crane conference. 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 8, from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Karim Lakhani of the Harvard Business School will detail how incorporating blockchain technology into your operations can address and resolve many supply chain challenges, while boosting efficiency and reducing risk. Lakhani will talk about specific use cases as well as pilot projects to provide context for the discussion. Attendees will learn how to incorporate blockchain into their business to transform their supply chain, according to MHI.

  • On Tuesday, April 9, from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of "Girls Who Code," a group dedicated to addressing the serious gender imbalance in the tech industry, will provide practical strategies for closing the gender gap and explain why it's a key to the future success of our industry.

  • On Wednesday, April 10, 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 "2019 Annual Industry Report" from MHI. The report will focus on the trends and technologies that are transforming supply chains. The two will then moderate a panel on the real-world significance of the report's findings.

  • Later that day, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Marcus Lemonis, business magnate, serial entrepreneur, and star of the CNBC reality series "The Profit," will deliver a talk titled "The Three Keys to Business Success - People, Process, Profit." Lemonis, who has lent his expertise to struggling businesses in various industries across the country, will share his strategies for implementing his famous "3P" principles.

The keynotes will serve as the gateway to over 100 expert-led sessions covering industry issues like supply chain visibility, ergonomics, and a shortage of labor and the equipment and technology 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 9, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and MHI Industry Night, an evening of live music, food, drinks, and entertainment by comedian Craig Ferguson. Industry Night will be held on Wednesday, April 10. 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 to a location of the winner's choice.

A special bonus for attendees: Automate, a robotics, machine vision, and motion-control event, is once again co-located with ProMat in 2019. All ProMat registrants receive free admission to the Automate show.

Pre-registration for ProMat 2019 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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