Sponsored by the Material Handling Institute (MHI), MODEX is one of the largest expositions showcasing products and services targeted at the manufacturing and logistics verticals. This was VDC’s first time attending the show and it most certainly did not disappoint. Along with being extremely well attended, this event boasts a healthy exhibitor mix of hardware vendors, solution providers and integrators. As the AutoID & Data Capture analyst here at VDC, I had the opportunity to speak with some of the leading names in each of these communities, and learn their perspective on product innovation and market evolution. Here are some of my key observations:
Move over Laser. Camera-based solutions are here to stay.
One of the themes that stood out across the board is the growing popularity of camera-based solutions in logistics environments, and the growing use of these systems in conjunction with and as a replacement for laser solutions. Datalogic, SICK and VITRONIC had their latest and greatest imaging technology on display – both line scan cameras as well as area imagers – with the vendors showcasing their solutions’ ability to facilitate image capture and analysis in support of applications that will help logistics providers cut down on supply chain inefficiencies. These imagers will gain increased consideration as the need grows to decode a larger amount of data and capture information beyond what is printed on the barcode label. Aside from product identification (via barcode label scanning), these also have the potential to be leveraged for automating processes such as sortation, order fulfillment, claims management, damaged goods documentation, and merchandise returns. Traceability is now a basic necessity; enhanced operational visibility, including verifying the state of the product in real-time, will be critical success determinant. Establishing partnerships with the independent software vendor community will be crucial to addressing key customer requirements in this space.
Big Data in logistics – the need to enable cross-platform communication
Well-oiled supply chains are integral to delivering products cost effectively from source to consumption. Logistics providers are inundated with data coming in from a variety of different sources. There is a need to streamline the flow of products and information across channel, network and organizational boundaries. This is where integrators come in. My conversations with logistics automation solution providers like Vanderlande Industries and KNAPP indicate the importance of building leaner supply chains that ensure on-time delivery with minimal waste by trimming fixed and variable costs. Today’s demand-driven value chains stipulate technology investments that provide not just near real-time information, but also insight into unmet consumer demands. Leading integrators, servicing some of the largest logistics providers, are actively seeking ways to consolidate the data collection process, regardless of device type, and convert it into actionable business intelligence.
To enable dynamic, cross-functional supply chain collaboration, it will be essential for data capture technology vendors to ensure that their products integrate and communicate seamlessly with a wide range of solutions. I expect to discuss these themes and more in VDC’s upcoming research on the global markets for barcode technologies and machine vision solutions. Stay tuned!