Topic covered -
The event, the exhibitors, the conference, visitors, business trends
my empathy mapping and take on the trends in automation
Post-pandemic this was my first "real world event" that I attended from 19th to 21st of August 2022 @ Pragati Maidan - Delhi. For those who may not know Indian Warehouse Show (IWS) is one of the premier and biggest annual events on warehouse automation and material handling systems, held in August in Delhi India. This is a GO-TO event for most of us who provide solutions to the warehousing industry
Drivers to attend this event were
Converse with experts, exhibitors, and customers to better understand the trends (present and emerging), as well as the headwinds that businesses are facing due to global uncertainty
To verify if we have reached the "tipping point" for warehouse automation, especially robotic automation in" Warehouse picking"
Position of MOPTro in the overall scheme of things in warehouse operations
First things first, the exhibition itself was well organized and relatively well attended. All the big names from the Warehouse automation & material handling industry had pitched their tents, inter-spread with a bunch of new bees & start-ups who were there to demonstrate their solutions/products
The exhibitors displayed a mix of material handling and storage equipment like BOPTs, Articulated Forklifts, and racks, to conventional automation like conveyors, pick & place, to Next Gen automation solutions like ASRS, AGV, and swarm robots.
The exhibition is accompanied by a conference that is conducted at the same venue as the exhibition. I was keen to attend the conference, to take in all that the industry leaders had to share with us about warehouse business, Government initiatives & policies, emerging trends in technology, and important of all - what is the customer signaling to us
The conference was an opportunity to meet industry experts in-person perhaps a singular opportunity to interact with them one-on-one. This is also a platform to network with peers from the business
The theme of this year's IWS conference was "Sustainability & Cost Efficient Supply chain". Though the theme was apt, the conference fell short of expectations as there were far too many speakers who did not show up at the last moment, certainly, many of the speakers on my "to meet" bucket list were no-shows. Though other speakers did a sterling job, many attendees lost interest in the conference and wandered off into the exhibition area, limiting my opportunities to network. Overall, a tad bit disappointing on the conference front
Picking MOPTro SNAIL
In the last few quarters, we at Greendzine have noted with interest the launch of new startups, introduction of new solutions, and partnerships among various players in the warehouse automation space, so besides the drivers mentioned above in this piece, the other recurring questions/thoughts that I hoped to find answers at this event were
Has robotic automation reached its "tipping point"?
Which industry (Automotive. E-commerce, Retail, pharma) is focusing more on automation in the "picking area" ?
Are there any successful automation deployment case studies in the picking area which has given ROI to the customer in 18-36 months?
What is the competition for MOPTRO?
At Greendzine, it's traditional for team members to present their conference experience using the Empathy mapping model, so here is a partial map for your consumption,..
SEE (What did I see in the exhibition)
Same / existing large players with a few new entrants (read startups)
Companies are Positioning / Re-positioning as System integrators or Tech companies
Tech or product gaps are covered by partnerships with small companies or startups
AGVs attracted attention at the stalls
Hear (What did I hear at the exhibition)
Without clear ROI, customer's resistance to automation remains the same as before
ASRS penetration predominantly in the automobile sector
Investors are still confident in AGVs companies
it's unclear (read skeptical) if AGV companies have acquired paying customers
Light-based picking still struggling to find a niche in Ecom verticle
Startup chaos - free pilots, buy now pay later, payment by testimonial..and more. The impression is companies are buying customers in the name of market share.
THINK (What do I think about the experience)
The automation tipping point is some time away, perhaps the market is waiting for external stimuli, for instance, a new labor policy
Autonomous picking solutions with an ROI between 18 to 36 - skepticism continues
Medium and small companies in the MHE business are diversifying into 3PL or divesting to focus on single/reduced offerings building a competitive edge in price
Pick-by-light has yet to make a significant impact in the picking solution business
In conclusion, there appears that more than ever the demand for a man-machine solution in picking. that full automation or autonomous solution is still some time away.