ProMat 2023: Pickle Robots and Ron Howard

March 28, 2023 by Stephanie Leonida

ProMat 2023 has come to an end. What technologies made an appearance on the show floor that are helping shape the future of smart warehousing, logistics, and manufacturing operations?

The materials handling and logistics trade show, ProMat 2023 (March 20-23, Chicago), heralded the arrival of key technologies for advancing manufacturing, warehousing, and logistic center operations, including an orchestration platform for controlling robots and devices, a robot arm for unloading goods from trucks, and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that can traverse imperfect flooring.

ProMat 2023 showfloor

Key technologies for advancing manufacturing, warehousing, and logistics center operations made appearances at ProMat 2023. Image used courtesy of MHI


Synergy Logistics SnapControl

SnapControl is an exciting new offering from warehouse management system (WMS) solution provider Synergy Logistics (Synergy). Synergy's latest solution, coined as a "multiagent orchestration platform," controls devices and robots operating within a warehouse or logistics center environment. SnapControl is intended to help warehouse managers onboard new devices and activate automation systems without wasting valuable time through complex integration. This also paves the way for making the eCommerce industry more adaptable to the changing demands of consumers. 


Synergy Logistics SnapControl

Synergy releases its device-agnostic "multiagent orchestration platform," SnapControl. Image used courtesy of Synergy


As an agnostic solution, Synergy claimsiSnapControl can connect to almost any device, including conveyors, palletizers, AMRs, radio frequency, put walls, and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS). SnapControl allows users to add new devices quickly when required and offers real-time device switchover if one decides to stop operating. SnapControl also works side by side with Synergy’s SnapFulfill, a cloud-based WMS in the Tier 1 category, which means it comes with the highest level of interconnectivity and functionality.

SnapControl fosters messaging via MQTT so that devices and systems can talk to each other in real-time to enable automatic and quick decision-making. 


Pickle’s Robot Arm for Truck Unloading

The seamless integration of devices and improved communication in warehousing environments are not the only elements behind speedy and efficient operations. Robots are becoming critical in getting goods on and off the shelves and on the road to eCommerce industry consumers. 

It's a tough job moving heavy packages from a loaded goods vehicle, especially in the heat of the summer. Accidents can occur, which puts warehouse operators and workers in a bit of a pickle. But not for the Pickle Robot Company (Pickle) and its newly unveiled robot arm for truck unloading. The bot arm is based on a KUKA robot and features a customized head that can lift objects weighing up to 65 pounds using pneumatic suction. 


Pickle's robotic trailer unloading system in action. Video used courtesy of Pickle Robot Company


The unloading bot also features an integrated vision system and uses artificial intelligence to identify which boxes to attach to and move next one after another-depending on the space available to maneuver. The robot arm can execute 600 picks per hour and requires minimal worker supervision. 

Pickle’s robot is suitable for loosely packed environments and can be used with any power or gravity flex conveyor, according to Pickle. The mobile base of the robot allows users to can move the robot and set it up in under 10 minutes to begin unloading at another dock.


The THiRAbot 1000 logistics robot in operation at a construction site. Video used courtesy of THiRA ROBOTICS


AMRs for High Traffic and Rugged Flooring

ProMat attendees were also privy to an announcement from THiRA Robotics (THiRA) concerning the launch of AMRs that can navigate tough conditions in industrial facilities. The official launch of these AMRs targets the U.S. market, aiming to provide a logistics solution that can traverse bumpy floor surfaces and navigate high traffic to maintain the flow of operations. THiRA demonstrated the movement of five models of AMR as they traversed both sloped and uneven flooring at ProMat (booth #N6054).

The foot-sure AMR solution can also traverse liquid spills, slopes, narrow spaces, and elevators. THiRA’s AMRs use a hybrid algorithm combining simultaneous localization and mapping and a vision system to navigate changing surroundings. The bots can move up slopes at an incline of 10 degrees and carry as much as 1000 kg.


Celebrity Appearances

The above are just a few innovations that made an appearance in Chicago last week at ProMat 2023. Also on display were key warehousing and logistics solutions from big industry names, including FANUC, Cognex, and SICK. ProMat 2023 also featured 150 educational seminars and keynotes, including a conversation with celebrity chef José Andrés and American director Ron Howard.