Attending technology and innovation conferences can be a great way to discover new possibilities for your business, learn different techniques, and perhaps spark innovative ideas of your own. In media, SXSW continues to influence film and music. In economics, the Wall Street Journal D.Live conference brings together the brightest finance wizzes. Logistics are no different, as material handling professionals put on ProMat, North America’s largest exposition of manufacturing and supply chain experts.

ProMat 2017

The goal of the biennial conference is to present the newest products and technologies in material handling and logistics. This year, the combined 33,000 square meters of showroom at McCormick Place in Chicago hosted over 1000 exhibitions and 40,000 manufacturing and supply chain professionals from April 3-6. Keynote speakers included Andrew Winston, who spoke about sustainability, Marcus Lorenze, who discussed the impending fourth industrial revolution, and Magic Johnson, a retired basketball Hall of Famer turned billion-dollar entrepreneur who talked about how to anticipate what customers want, and how to prepare. Every two years, the trade show gives businesses the opportunity to set up exhibits and promote products they specialize in while attending educational sessions to become more knowledgeable about other topics.


People that applied and were approved to present an exhibit were able to show off their products and services to interested attendees who might benefit. The 1000 exhibits dealt with an array of products and services. Many of the topics are listed below, but are only the tip of the iceberg.

Material Handling: AS/RS, automatically guided vehicles, hydraulic controls, racking systems, forklifts, manufacturing systems, conveyor systems, safety gear, lifts, shelves, workstations.

Packaging: Box builders, packaging machines, wrapping, weighing machines, scanners, pallets, baskets, containers, palletizing gear.

Inventory Control: Computers, software, integrating systems, warehouse management systems, supply chain systems, wireless and remote controlled systems.

Warehouse Dock Equipment: Levelers, pads, doors, racking, floors, vehicle attachments, conveyor systems, hoisting, cranes, rails, lifting, distributing planners, distribution consulting.

Supply Chain: Alternative fuel, package management and distribution, transportation management, security.

Sustainability: Renewable energy, alternative methods to fuel, efficient lighting, packaging and shipping materials that can be returned or recycled, HVLS fans, regeneration technology, planning for a sustainable warehouse.

Driverless Vehicles: AS/RS, automated guided vehicles, driverless vehicles, drones, cranes.


Among the many other topics covered by forward thinking exhibits, ProMat also provided its guests with over 100 educational sessions with the goal of informing attendees about the latest in material handling and logistical applications to better their businesses. Held in theaters on the trade show floor, these seminars also focused on issues such as supply chain visibility, ergonomic work standards, and keeping workers safe.

An effective trade show about innovation and technology brings about education, networking, and fun into one experience, while informing and motivating you enough to propel you beyond your competitors. ProMat 2017 did a great job of doing this, and we are already looking forward to heading back to Chicago in 2019. If you missed ProMat this year and are looking for another trade show to visit, check out Modex 2018 in Atlanta, held between April 9-12.