If you follow us on Twitter, you likely saw where our team attended last week’s 2018 MODEX conference. We got a firsthand look at the latest and greatest technology revolutionizing manufacturing and supply chain operations and met some fantastic professionals from all over the globe showcasing “what’s next” in the supply chain and material handling industry.

From AGVs and AMRs, to VR and ASRS (and all other acronyms in between), robotics took front and center at this year’s show with most focusing on removing labor hours from putaway, picking, and sorting functions. In case you weren’t able to attend, we’ve compiled a roundup of the top five products to watch, and, if you aren’t already following us on Twitter, we encourage you to do so now. You’ll find photos and videos of everything that caught our eye at this year’s MODEX conference.

1. Kindred AI “Meet SORT”

SORT, Kindred AI’s sorting pod with a robotic arm, is poised to become a must-have for facilities sorting batches into carts or totes by hand. While we often see sortation systems that require additional conveyors, the compact nature of the pod prevents it from taking up extra floor space (or capital) for additional conveyors. What else makes SORT a product you want to keep an eye on? SORT uses AI to learn to pick up fragile items differently than say, a pair of jeans. It’s trained by associates and eventually learns over time how to handle each individual product. Kindred also sells this as a service, requiring no major capital expense for installation.

2. Cimcorp 3D Shuttle

Perhaps one of the most impressive and complex systems on display at MODEX was Cimcorp’s 3D Shuttle. A swarm of supply chain professionals and conference attendees were gathered around the Cimcorp booth each time we walked by and for good reason: No racking is required in this ASRS, and a single “cell” can hold up to 12,000 totes. They currently have an install at TUKO Logistics (a Finnish grocery logistics company) with over 50,000 totes.

3. SSI Schaefer, Dematic, SDI Pouch System

The pouch sortation system was display with several companies this year (SDI, Dematic, SSI Schaefer), each one citing a few recent installations. A great concept, the pouch system utilizes space with a multi-level approach, improves accuracy, and can be changed out to use hangers instead of the pouch. Apparel retailers: You’ll want to keep an eye on this system. We saw this as a perfect addition to returns areas, where sorting and consolidating items back into inventory can be a burden. These pouch sortation systems can immediately put a return item in a “pick ready” status.

4. ForkLift Simulator and Virtual Reality Forklift Training

The team at ForkLift Simulator let us give their Virtual Reality forklift training a go, and let’s just say it was a memorable experience. After entering the cab, you put on VR goggles, and entered a training area within a distribution facility, complete with a trailer to unload and pallets to pull from racking. Not only were the visuals amazing, the feel of the cab was incredibly lifelike. How do we know? We may have crashed into a guard rail…  

As technology continues to impact and revolutionize supply chains, don’t be surprised if you begin to see VR systems like ForkLift Simulator used for training and onboarding.

5. Restuff-It and Destuff-It

While the impact and ROI of new loading and unloading technology is yet to be determined, it’s presence at MODEX was impressive and worth noting. The “Restuff-It” and “Destuff-It” machine put on a great display of the potential for this technology. The ergonomics of these are certainly a huge advantage. An employee has full control over the level at which they grab a carton, eliminating any need to reach or bend. While the scalability of this technology raises some questions, the ease of which an unloader or loader can complete a trailer makes this piece of tech one to watch in 2018.

Did you attend MODEX 2018? Want to ask us more questions about the latest trends and tech from MODEX 2018? Leave a comment below or drop us a comment on LinkedIn and Twitter, and for more helpful content and resources, sign up for our On the DC Floor with LogistiPoint newsletter below. Each quarter, we’ll deliver tips, industry insights and news straight to your inbox to keep your operation on the cutting edge.