ProMat 2023—Showcased Yard Management Solutions and Device-Agnostic Platforms

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By Adhish Luitel | 2Q 2023 | IN-6906

ProMat 2023 provided insight into the growing levels of supply chain digitalization, with notable advancements from software vendors expanding their platform offerings and leveraging partnerships and acquisitions for new capabilities. Discussions with key vendors highlighted the growing opportunity for yard management platforms and strategic partnerships with complementary technologies.

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ProMat Returns after a 4-Year Break


Last week’s ProMat event was a welcome return to the excitement of the last live edition of the event, back in 2019. First off, the event was packed and informative. There was a record-setting total registration mark of more than 51,000 industry professionals, across more than 1,000 exhibitor booths in two large halls across McCormick Place in Chicago. Things were hopping, even more so than at last year’s successful MODEX show, also put on by international trade association MHI. Looking back on the industry changes since 2019, some challenges persist. Labor availability remains a core driver for solutions. This year, MHI found that hiring and retaining qualified workers remained the top supply chain industry challenge, followed closely by issues like supply chain disruption, out-of-stock situations, and increasing customer demands.

Software Highlights at ProMat


Supply chain software giant Manhattan Associates was definitely one of the highlights among software solution providers. It showcased its Warehouse Execution System (WES) that is complementary to the Manhattan Automation Network—a number of strategic integration partnerships that the company has developed with select warehouse automation providers. To complement its relatively new yard management offering, Manhattan Associates also ran the “Yard Management: The Apex of Distribution & Transportation Unification” seminar, where it sought to explain the out-sized impact and upside of a unified yard management solution.

Another supply chain software giant, Blue Yonder, was exhibiting its suite of supply chain software solutions, the Luminate platform, which includes a control tower software, a transport management platform, a warehouse management platform, and a yard management platform. Blue Yonder also discussed its next-generation, Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled yard management system. The system, expected to reach general availability within the next 6 months, uses Panasonic camera technology that can read markings on containers and license plates on trucks. These capabilities support the automated monitoring of yard movements, providing increased visibility that enables greater yard efficiencies.

Körber Supply Chain was exhibiting its range of solutions, including transport management, warehouse management, warehouse control, cloud solutions, yard management, supply chain network design, and order management system. The company also had a Virtual Reality (VR) booth that featured picking-to-robot processes.

Software giant Softeon also featured two interconnected solutions that help companies improve productivity, reduce cycle times, and achieve high levels of operational agility. Its two solution blocks include a Warehouse Management System (WMS) and a supply chain execution platform. Softeon’s LUCA supply chain execution platform, a fully composable (configurable) toolset that includes low-code/no-code integrations to everything from mobile robots to good-to-person technologies; “drag and drop” pre-built configurations to dozens of other systems; advanced workflow management capabilities; and a configurable user interface builder.

Movement toward Enhanced Integration


With the broad variety of platforms on display, it was clear that software vendors were moving from siloed and specific solutions to integrated solutions, usually involving multiple operations. There was also a push for platforms to be more device-agnostic, but the counterpoint to that was the fact that they were partnering with popular hardware vendors, such as 6 River Systems and Locus Robotics. It seems to be a bit of a catch-22 situation in which software vendors need to highlight the fact that they’re device-agnostic, yet push for more partnerships with hardware vendors with an established base.

Supply chains today are facing a massive skills gap, combined with a low unemployment rate, staff retention, and record levels of employee turnover. These factors have contributed to the current market movement from building everything in-house to looking for partners to improve efficiency. The more ready-to-deploy capabilities that solution providers can offer, the faster they can solve critical pain points. The popularity of low-code/no-code tools among software vendors across the exhibition is a testament to this as it will help companies implement solutions in their organizations by allowing line-of-business teams to operate without the need for Information Technology (IT) teams’ involvement. Connecting different silos of the supply chain is also key for end users and we are seeing more of this from solution providers as they look to link transportation management with the warehousing side of things through dedicated yard management solutions.



Companies Mentioned