2023 Promat Review, Chicago, US
Promat (link) is a bi-annual trade show organised buy MHI at the impressive McCormick Place situated on the shore of Lake Michigan... and yes, the famous Windy City certainly did not disappoint.
Promat 2023 was badged as the Biggest Supply Chain Event in its history (link) and we certainly agreed it was a very very busy show.
Registration Count: 50,924
Organiser: MHI (link)
Promat North Hall, view from the press room
Note that the show was very very busy and this review does not even come close to representing the true vibrancy and overall excitement at the show. We recommend visiting.
MCCORMICK PLACE, CHICAGO
Entrance to McCormick Place, Chicago, March 2023
McCormick Place is made up from two large show halls – North and South.
McCormick place inside the entrance, stairs up to the North and South halls. Image taken around 8am Monday, the show opened to the general public at 10am.
It took our analyst a day (8am-5pm) to go through the South Hall and to check out exhibitors, such as AutoStore, Geek+, BlueBotics, Covariant, Mushiny, Addverb, Exotec, RightHand Robotics, Quicktron, among many others (sorry if we forgot you, can't list the whole hall). There were plenty of smaller exhibitors in the back of the South Hall with multiple exciting new robotics companies, such as Unbox Robotics (exhibiting for the first time).
Inside the South Hall. Exotec, Kindred, Flexqube
Inside the South Hall. Addverb
The North Hall took us 1.5 days to go through, potentially because of the sheer traffic we had to navigate since the 2nd day was very very busy (see our video).
In the North Hall you would find established companies, such as TGW, Vanderlande, OPEX, Swisslog, Interroll and others alongside startups, such as Locus, Rapyuta Robotics, Agility Robotics and plenty of others.
Inside the North Hall
Our overall impression was that the show traffic was higher when compared to Modex 2022 which was in its own right a very very busy show (confirmed by the organisers)
A LACK OF NEW INVENTIONS?
In terms of new inventions, there was not very much to see and we were left slightly disappointed. But had kind of a feeling this would be the case before we visited, based in interviews for our 2023 G2P Solutions report (download here for free).
Most new developments were mainly larger, taller and wider. Although there were some exciting concepts... they were mainly this, concepts that we wished were developed further. This may also mean that the sector is maturing...
Of course, there were some interesting concepts and younger startups on show.
Slip Robotics for quick truck loading/unloading.
Whilst not very new, there were plenty inventory count drones on display including B Garage.
On a separate note on inventions - we did meet a few exciting & interesting startups still in stealth mode. This may also be a thing, i.e. that new startups with exciting inventions wait to show off their solutions/products until they have a proven business case.
As an example of new innovative solution introductions - separately to the trade show - Tom at STIQ met with Yegor at Instock for breakfast. FYI if you have a new solution and you want to chat at the next big trade show - contact Tom directly. We also met Roms Inc from Tokyo, Japan.
With China opening up in early 2023, there were definitely a sense of these companies spending large to showcase their good for the first time/again since 2019. There were also many other Asian companies, from South Korea we saw Thira Robotics, LG Robotics (yes the LG people now also make robots), Floatic, etc. These companies were spread out through the two show halls.
Thira Robotics from South Korea
South Korean LG, now also with a P2G/PA-AMR robot.
Chinese Galaxis showcasing pallet truck
Floatic from Korea showcasing their P2G/PA-AMR robot solution
PROMAT 2023 GOSSIP
As with all shows, there's always a bit of gossip around. The main topic was Intellectual Property and STIQ thinks IP Lawyers will have a field day in coming years with different companies suing each other for various infringements.
However, bringing an IP case can be very expensive, not only financially. Anyone thinking about legal action should be careful and have a proper strategy in place.
For example, AutoStore had spent in excess of $60m on their legal action against Ocado Solutions across various countries (to date).
RECOMMENDED IP READING: STIQ recommends checking page 43 in our 2022 G2P Solutions report (we interviewed an IP expert at a law firm) as a primer of some of the issues involved and perhaps to give you an idea of how to proceed. This is a free report you can download here.
STIQ PRIZE CATEGORIES
First price for STAND POPULARITY: AGILITY ROBOTICS + SWISSLOG
In terms of popularity (as in photographs and videos recorded) the shared first prize went to Agility Robotics and Swisslog’s beer robot. These were absolutely no doubt the most popular and most shared on social media.
Agility Robotics at Promat
Swisslog/KUKA beer pouring robot at Promat
First price for LARGEST STAND: OPEX
OPEX may not have had the largest stand, but it most definitely felt like it was the largest and most open stand. They showcased the Infinity solution which we still think is amazing, but was launched at Modex in 2022 so was not new per se.
First prize for EXCELLENCE IN SHOW ORGANIZATION: MHI
Ok, they were the only show organiser on location, but we’re impressed. Even though they could probably have managed to create areas with focus on mobile robots, etc. But… this is not an easy task to sort out.
The only thing we missed when compared to the many super well organised German trade shows was probably a shuttle to the airport. Everything else was super and in the same vein as Modex. And, moving between the two events on a bi-annual basis works well.
First prize for WEIRDEST GOSSIP: $1 FOR A ROBOTICS COMPANY
The current state of the warehouse automation market remains superhot so it came as a complete surprise to us that someone would even consider offloading what is quite a well-known name in the sector for $1. It remains to be seen if there was any truth to the gossip.
There were a few other rumours around, but nothing that we dare printing 😊
View of Lake Michigan from the back of McCormick Centre
Finding your way was certainly easy
Whilst the view from the press/media room was super, the size of the room... could have been a bit bigger. However, the catering and staff were excellent!
MHI also organise Modex, a bi-annual show held in Atlanta. Read our Modex 2022 review here.
If you liked this review, why not download some of STIQs free market research reports on warehouse automation - check out our reports here