The QUALITY link

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Today’s logistics professionals need to be kept up-to-date with the very latest technologies and service provision available as they strive to reduce costs, while at the same time, boosting efficiency. And Logistics Link North, which made its debut on September 22 and 23 at Doncaster Racecourse Exhibition & Conference Centre, did not disappoint.

A total of 1,635 logistics and supply chain professionals from all over the UK, and even from overseas, attended the exhibition which was the first to be held in the North by organiser Logistics Manager. Following in the footsteps of sister exhibition Logistics Link 2004 held at Sandown Park, Esher in February, Logistics Link North was the biggest and best specialist show to be held this year covering every aspect of the supply chain.

And the resounding approval from visitors and the 120-plus exhibitors alike confirms that the diverse exhibitor base to create a one-stop shop is still the key to the continued success of the Logistics Link exhibitions. Leading suppliers used Logistics Link North to demonstrate some of the very latest thinking in areas ranging from supply chain execution to industrial property development along with a host of solutions covering areas such as contract distribution, automation, materials handling, packaging, printing, training and development, wireless technology and storage technology.

Materials handling

If it was not for the traditional workhorses of various forklift trucks, pickers and other materials handling equipment, the supply chain could not function efficiently. The forklift truck sector was well represented at Logistics Link North with Crown Lift Trucks, Impact Toyota, Jungheinrich, Linde Material Handling, Narrow Aisle, Still Materials Handling and Translift on hand.

Crown, making its Logistics Link debut, took the opportunity to demonstrate its new ST/SX range of stackers as well as the WP2300 series pallet trucks and the higher lifting Wave work assist vehicle.

Narrow Aisle chose Logistics Link North for the first public showings of its new LPG-powered Flexi Gas truck and the Outback R5 reach truck. The company’s Helen Bishop was pleased with the response, saying: “We’re having a good show, and we’ve had some good, quality leads. The leads that we did get made the show more than worthwhile.”

Visitors to Impact Toyota, Linde, Jungheinrich and Still’s stands were able to see a selection of their individual product ranges. Still’s Chris Minty comments: “The show has been very good and we’ve got some very good leads.” And, slightly adapting an infamous phrase from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Minty adds: “We’ll be back.”

A wide variety of ancillary products and solutions for materials handling equipment were demonstrated by suppliers Autogas, Avery Weigh-Tronix, Bolzoni-Auramo, Enersys (Hawker), Flogas, Log-IT Systems, Mettler-Toledo and Traka.

Tailored flexibility

Distribution operators exhibiting at Logistics Link North drew attention to the true diversity of their services and the evolving needs of this sector for tailored, individual transport and warehousing solutions.

The scope of supply on show in this field matched the varied profile of logistics professionals visiting the exhibition, with solutions ranging from full logistics service provision to express overnight full and part-pallet transfer.

Leading players demonstrating their views on the marked shift towards tailored, flexible services and added-value partnerships comprised Caretakers, the Eldred Group, Meachers Group and The Potter Group.

Keen to highlight its intermodal activities was The Potter Group. The company’s staff were on hand to outline its recent investment in a new quay-to-door intermodal container management service. The operation entails taking deep sea containers from dockside to an inland terminal by rail, storage and onward shipment by road or rail.

Not to be outdone, the palletised distribution specialists were in attendance as the networks continue to enjoy the demand from many companies wanting smaller, more frequent consignments moved.

Rival companies Pall-Ex and PalletFORCE each took the opportunity to explain the advantages of using their dedicated networks of transport operators, as well as how they are providing a vital and cost-effective link in the supply chain.

Accommodating business

The provision of industrial property is one of the most significant areas where logistics operations have benefited. Spiralling customer expectations, the major growth in Internet shopping and the sophisticated manufacturing techniques have put many companies under increased pressure, whether making, selling or moving goods.

These companies increasingly see modern distribution facilities as vital in their bid to work smarter and stay flexible. As a result, the service provision from warehouse design and build specialists, project managers and industrial agents plays an important role in fulfilling those companies’ needs.

Visitors to Logistics Link North were able to talk to a variety of exhibitors specialising in a wide range of solutions such as total design management, construction and fit-out, developers and consultancies.

Parkfield Projects, which specialises in design and build, general contracting and project management, highlighted a few of its recent projects for companies including Maun Industries, South Yorkshire Fire and Civil Defence, Polyex, Bestway, Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service and the Equation Group.

Doncaster Investment Team, Goole Multimodal, Humber Trade Zone and West Lothian Council are just a few regional agencies that have realised the advantages of attracting companies to build distribution facilities in their regions in terms of employment opportunities and improved economies. The organisations used the exhibition to outline what they are doing to encourage potential occupiers to their regions.

And Storage Structures was on hand to promote its range of temporary storage solutions for a wide range of applications such as emergency cover or extra warehousing to meet seasonal stock demands.

Meanwhile, industrial door manufacturer Ro-Dor used the show to announce its alliance with Dynaco, the Belgian rapid action door manufacturer. Ro-Dor says that the Dynaco range features several benefits concerning safety.

Automating logistics

Squeezing ever greater levels of efficiency and flexibility from their distribution centre operations has led to companies demanding more innovative developments in storage and retrieval from suppliers.

Logistics Link North saw Europe’s leading automation and systems integration specialists demonstrating an unrivalled choice of cutting edge design, project management, implementation and maintenance services for product storage, retrieval and transfer.

Elephante Lift Technology took the to opportunity to show its newly designed passenger/goods lift, which is 20% cheaper than the previous design price, while FKI Logistex demonstrated its new “slimline” motorised zero line pressure accumulation conveyor.

Interroll specialises in subsystems and modules for materials handling, conveyors and automation. The company tends to deal with trade only but used Logistics Link North to show end-users some of its products so that they can tell their project managers to install the equipment. The company’s Peter Hunt says: “It’s been worthwhile to be here especially as very senior people are here. We’re interested in the trade side but showing end-users our products is important too.”

Link 51, Knapp, European Conveyor Systems, SSI Schaefer and Savoye featured a wide variety of automated handling technology for visitors to assess.

Soft touch

There is no doubt that it is important for forward thinking companies to get to grips with the latest breed of logistics software products to ensure they have greater control over and visibility of their supply chains.

And Logistics Link North provided numerous opportunities for visitors to see the very latest developments covering a multitude of tasks – warehouse management, inventory and fulfilment – in this fast evolving sector.

Open Business Solutions chose the exhibition to launch its new Calidus-sc warehouse management system (WMS) which costs less than £100,000 and guaranteed installation within three months. The software is designed to help users cut costs, improve logistics and gain a return on investment within months, not years.

Visitors were able to see demonstrations of a variety of software from companies including Central Solution, Delta Software, Zafire, Savoye, ATMS, FWL Technologies and CFC Solutions.

Proteus is a veteran exhibitor when it comes to the Logistics Link exhibition and managing director David Gray was quick to endorse the new addition, saying: “It’s been a pleasing surprise with a good quality throughput of attendees. We got some goods leads with interest shown in our WMS solutions, especially in RF directed and voice technology.”

Hard choices

As well as the industry-focused software, visitors to Logistics Link North were treated to the very latest thinking in hardware and wireless technology for the supply chain.

Inotec debuted its new RFID tag which is designed to only carry data but can also be programmed to measure temperature profiles or out of range extremes.

LXE demonstrated a wide variety of its Windows-based wireless computers and handheld computers which have been developed to provide real-time data capture, traceability and tracking. The company’s Lisa Bowen says: “We’re very pleased and have got some good leads. The quality of enquiries has been good, as usual. The job titles of visitors are exactly the ones we want to target. Also, a couple of prospects that we have been dealing with came to the show which was great.”

Indigo Software took the opportunity to launch its new RFID and voice solution, Syncro. The solution uses RFID, voice and RDT technologies and is aimed helping consumer goods companies achieve RFID compliance as dictated by the major retailers.

Visitors to DataScan Systems’ stand could see live demonstrations an RFID pass through gate. The demonstration highlighted how a stack of plastic crates on a conveyor, for instance, passed through a gate which reads the tag information on all crates in one pass.

Industrial print solutions for logistics operations were well represented at Logistics Link North with class-leading technology from ASG Services, Imaje, Concept Labelling Solutions, Data Teknologies, Ecolabel, Intermec, Weyfringe Labelling Systems, Soabar, SATO and Lighthouse.

Ray Collia-Suzuki, of Unisto, says: “We got one really good lead and possibly a second. If both come off, it will have been worth it. It’s quality, not quantity that counts.”

Weyfringe was also pleased with the response from visitors. “We’ve had between 20 and 25 good leads for our barcode and labelling systems. The show has been worth it,” says the company’s Andrew Gleghorn.

Fleet management

While logistics software continues to play a major role within the supply chain the same is true of information technology for distribution fleet management. Environmental and congestion-related pressures as well as spiralling taxation and fuel costs mean that the job of the distribution fleet manager is no easy task.

However, sophisticated management software and in-cab hardware are helping to optimise the profitability, security of goods vehicle operations.

The very latest in fleet management technologies featured at Logistics Link North from leading suppliers such as Mandata, Road Tech Computer Systems, CFC Solutions, Central Weighing, 121 Systems, Teleroute, Brooks, AAC and Unisto.

Mandata featured the Manpack 3 TMS system among products on its stand while Road Tech’s Roadrunner traffic system continues to evolve, the latest innovation being the Roadrunner SDI (Smart Driver Interface).

Teleroute was on hand for visitors wishing to learn more about its online freight and vehicle exchange for the UK and Europe, which helps companies to match freight with vehicle movements.

Accommodating technology

The established disciplines of storage and handling within the warehousing and distribution environments were well covered at Logistics Link North, with a host of solutions for materials handling, racking and packaging on display. Several leading suppliers including Allibert Buckhorn, Link 51, Linpac, Travhydro and SSI Schaefer demonstrated a full complement of design, consultancy, supply and installation services.

Linpac displayed a variety of its products including the Apex and Linvar brands of racking and shelving. The company’s Justin Saw summed up the company’s attendance at the exhibition: “It’s been a great show, and has provided a fantastic opportunity for new business as well as to network. We’ve had lots of great leads including Miller Bros, Honda, Real Crisps, News International and TNT. It’s been really good.”

Travhydro demonstrated its drive-in/through product, the Travidrive, to highlight its rugged features while SSI Schaefer demonstrated its range of one-stop solutions, from a simple bay of shelving through to fully integrated automated high bay warehousing and high-speed automated order picking systems.

Packaging solutions

Packaging and security seals are playing an increasing important role within today’s supply chain and there were an abundance of solutions for Logistics Link North visitors to feast their eyes upon from leading companies including BPI Packaging, Claricom, Easypack, FP International, Mil-Tek, Orion Packaging Systems, PostSafe and Simpson Packaging.

Martin Settle, of BPI Packaging, comments: “We’ve had a couple of good orders and 53 enquiries. It’s been excellent. We’re very impressed, and we’re very happy. We’ve seen companies such as Nestlé, Argos, MacArthur and it’s these people we wouldn’t normally reach. To have these people walk onto our stand is incredible.”

Safer environments

With forklift trucks moving stock around and automation systems operating constantly, warehouses and distributions centres can be dangerous and noisy places. Visitors to Logistics Link North saw demonstrations of the most up-to-date in safety technology such as an alarm system from SBES which provides an automated solution for protecting staff in potentially hazardous areas.

Proven success

There is no doubt that the first Logistics Link North got off to a winning start. The exhibition has not only filled the gap in the logistics marketing calendar but has also provided the North with the only show that covers ALL aspects of the supply chain

In fact the exhibition was so successful that the second Logistics Link North will be held at Doncaster Racecourse Exhibition & Conference Centre on September 21 and 22, 2005. And a large number of exhibitors have booked their stands already for next year’s show. n

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