Top 10 Robots and Automation Seen at ProMat 2023

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Yale automated lift trucks

Continuing a trend from MODEX 2022, multiple forklift providers showed autonomous or semi-automated lift trucks at ProMat 2023. They addressed increasing demand for dense storage amid space constraints and labor shortages.

During its press conference at ProMat, Yale Materials Handling explained how demographic shifts are creating demand for automation. By 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas, and e-commerce could reach 30% of global retail, noted the company.

Warehouse space will grow from 25 billion sq. ft. in 2020 to 30 billion sq. ft. by 2025, and every 1 million sq. ft. requires about 100 lift trucks, said Yale. As a result, the shortage of operators will grow from 30 million now to 85 million globally by 2030.

Yale said its three-pronged strategy includes customer-driven design, technology “to solve tough problems,” and distribution via independent dealers.

During a session on lift trucks, Nic Temple, director of robotics and automation at Yale, said the company expects that robots will be 50% of its business in the next few years.

“Warehouses need to decrease operating expenses, reduce unplanned downtime, and deploy labor more strategically,” he said.

The steps to a successful deployment of a robotic fleet include conducting a site audit, defining the application with the customer, collecting data, creating a firm plan, and validating the return on investment, Temple noted.

What makes a robot fleet effective is the integration of end effectors, natural feature navigation, and working with the customer to define the application, he said.

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