If you stopped and closed your eyes for a moment at last month's ProMat 2011 show, you might well have thought you'd wandered into the United Nations' General Assembly Hall. During the four-day event, the cavernous halls of Chicago's McCormick Place echoed with conversations in Portuguese, Spanish, German, Japanese, and a host of other languages. The only thing that gave the venue away was the clacking of automated storage/retrieval systems and beeping of robots.
Exhibitors we spoke with said there were more international attendees than they had seen in recent years, and that the number of visitors from Brazil and other parts of Latin America, in particular, had grown dramatically. Some vendors were well-prepared to greet them, with Spanish- and Portuguese-language brochures, slide shows, and videos on hand.
ProMat's organizer, the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA), goes out of its way to welcome international visitors; the show includes an International Visitors Center with translators, telephones, and meeting rooms. ProMat's catalog even has sections in French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, and Swedish, as well as a special section that includes exhibitors that are interested in exporting their products.