Automation dominates MODEX

News Story
- 31 Mar 2022 ( #1070 ) - Atlanta, GA, United States
6 min read
Big crowds at MODEX
Big crowds at MODEX

By Allan Leibowitz

After reduced attendance and exhibitor withdrawals in 2020, MODEX is under way at the Georgia World Congress Center, in Atlanta, wrapping up this evening US time.

Initial reports suggest significant visitor numbers and meaningful exchanges with the 850-plus exhibitors.

As flagged in the previews, automation and robotics feature strongly on the trade show floor.

Locus Robotics is showing an expanded line of warehouse AMRs with the introduction of Locus Vector and Locus Max. These new form factors are designed for applications from e-commerce, case-picking and pallet-picking to scenarios requiring larger, heavier payloads to support the full range of product movement needs in today’s fulfilment and distribution warehouses.

New Jersey-based OPEX Corporation has added an innovative, goods-to-person (G2P) solution to its warehouse automation portfolio. The Infinity solution combines enhanced storage density, configurability and flexibility to meet the most pressing warehouse automation challenges for companies handling micro-fulfilment, omni-channel distribution, store replenishment and e-commerce, according to the company. 

Automated G2P technology delivers the right item or SKU at the right time to the right operator or workstation, increasing productivity, throughput, and labour utilisation by eliminating wasted time.

Canada’s Otto Motors has used MODEX to launch its OTTO Lifter, which it claims is the smartest autonomous forklift on the market. 

OTTO Lifter is an autonomous forklift that drives nimbly in crowded and dynamic environments and improves safety in warehouses and facilities. With advanced safety sensors and class-leading autonomous driving capabilities, OTTO Lifter works alongside people, other vehicles, and existing infrastructure, providing businesses with a safer materials handling solution. The autonomous forklift is compatible with the entire Otto Motors fleet of AMRs through Otto Motors’ Fleet Manager. 


Collaboration and integration

Hai Robotics announced new partnerships with Tompkins Robotics
Hai Robotics announced new partnerships with Tompkins Robotics

China’s Hai Robotics is showing its flexible totes-to-person warehouse automation solution alongside technology from MHS, SVT Robotics, GreyOrange and Tompkins Robotics.

Just before the show, Hai Robotics announced new partnerships with Tompkins Robotics and Storage Solutions that will see Hai technology and solutions applied to various industries across North America.

The display includes the award-winning HAIPICK A42T, and the new HAIPICK A3 fork-lifting robot designed for wider warehousing scenarios in addition to bin storage. 

Tompkins Robotics also used MODEX to showcase its new partnership with Global Robotics Services (GRS) for its collaborative robots as a service (RaaS) solution. 

The Tompkins Robotics - GRS RaaS solution provides customers with the ability to pay for what they consume, including equipment, installation, commissioning and support costs, all of which are included in the service level agreement (SLA). 

BlueBotics, which was recently acquired by Zapi Group, is hosting a multi-brand fleet demo of vehicles driven by its ANT technology.

The company’s booth features several different brands of vehicles, spanning automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) from across the ANT navigation ecosystem.

The vehicles are running a small pallet-moving operation, all controlled by one ANT server software project. The fleet includes an automated tow tractor with cart, a forked AGV, three BlueBotics mini lite autonomous mobile robots, plus an industrial cleaning robot.

BlueBotics used MODEX to announce that it had been chosed by Oceaneering International to provide navigation technology for its line of industrial autonomous mobile robots.

Henny Bouwmeester, vice president and general manager of Oceaneering Mobile Robotics, says 

BlueBotics, with its proven technology that requires little to no additional infrastructure, “will be an integral part of our solution stack and is highly complementary to our product and service offerings”.

Fanuc America is demonstrating two new CRX collaborative robots, and a variety of automation solutions for the warehousing and logistics industries at Modex 2022.

The new CRX cobots complement Fanuc’s existing line of CR and CRX cobots that now total 11 model variations, able to handle products from 4 - 35 kg.  

A new CRX-25iA robot, offering a 25 kg payload, is guided by a 3DV/200 vision sensor mounted on the arm and palletises boxes to nearly 7 ft. (2 m) high. Meanwhile, the new CRX-20iA/L cobot can pick consumer items of varying sizes and shapes that weigh up to 20 kg, and load them onto a storage cart.  

Big Joe launched BUD
Big Joe launched BUD

Traditional forklift manufacturer Big Joe used MODEX to preview several new products including the new breed of semi-autonomous machines (cobots) which keep humans in the loop within materials handling workflows to deliver maximum value.  

To demonstrate the concept, Big Joe is debuting its user-directed pallet mover, nicknamed BUD,  which features a simple onboard tablet and cloud connection to drive autonomously on custom missions once an operator manually loads a pallet and tells it where to go. 

BUD will be released later this year through a subscription service in partnership with Vecna Robotics, whose technology powers the system.

KION North America is showing new solutions from Dematic and Linde Material Handling.

On show are the Dematic Smart Task Activation fulfilment management software, the Dematic Micro-Fulfilment solution, the Dematic Mixed Case Fulfilment, and the Dematic Depalletizer/Palletizer.

Meanwhile, Linde is showing its Scalable Forklift Automation, a mobile automation solution for low-level order picking using automated guided forklifts for horizontal and vertical transport. These forklift solutions are highly scalable and can be adapted to the specific requirements of each operation. 

Additionally, the German manufacturer is showing its Guardian operator assistance system that can see around corners and be programmed to safeguard against hazardous scenarios involving trucks, infrastructure and people. 

The Raymond Corporation is also demonstrating the synergy of traditional materials handling products with cutting-edge advances in automation technology through an automated, integrated systems solution. Raymond’s display includes its Automated Swing-Reach Truck, the Radioshuttle pallet storage and retrieval system, and a Raymond Courie 3030 Automated Stacker operator-optional automated lift truck that can be scheduled to perform on its own or operated manually.


Traditional products

While automation may be the flavour of the month, Ireland’s Combilift has stuck to its knitting with a demonstration of the recently launched Combi-MR4 four-wheel electric-powered multidirectional reach truck, which incorporates Combilift’s new Dynamic 360° steering.

The versatile Combi-MR4 can handle long loads as well as palletised goods with ease. 

Battery specialist EnerSys hosted a workshop on the latest power management tools and advanced battery modelling software to increase operational productivity, performance and profitability. Featuring real-world case studies and insights on the current industry landscape, Chris Wayment, field sales enablement manager, explained how the tools can generate customised, data-driven guidance to right-size a battery and charger fleet for maximum cost savings and throughput. 

Green Cubes Technology, meanwhile, is showing off its Lithium SAFEFlex Chargers to complement its Lithium SAFEFlex Batteries. Green Cubes says it is the only manufacturer to offer enterprises both lithium-ion batteries and affiliated chargers, thus simplifying the electrification of materials handling equipment. These chargers are offered in 15 kW and 30 kW models, each model supporting up to three simultaneous charging ports and performing voltage auto-detect for each of the charging ports. 

Vista, California-based Flux Power is showing its full product line, including lithium-ion solutions for Class I-III materials handling equipment. The manufacturer used MODEX to introduce two new products for the three-wheel forklift segment and the Autonomous Mobile Robot and Automated Guided Vehicle spaces.

In part 2 of our MODEX 2022 report we cover more products, presentation highlights and the mood on the floor. Read it here: Modex exhibitor insights.

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