The stongest link

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LOGISTICS LINK 2004 proved to be yet another winner, for the third year, running with more than 1,600 logistics professionals having converged on Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey, to see the latest technologies and service provision designed to drive down costs and boost operational efficiency within the supply chain. Some 1,602 logistics and supply chain professionals from all over the UK, and even from overseas, attended Logistics Link 2004 which took place on February 3 and 4.

The high attendance level proved, for the third consecutive year, that many logistics professionals remain as keen as ever to investigate the innovative opportunities available – confirmation that Logistics Link’s diverse exhibitor base, creating a one-stop shop, is key to the exhibition’s continuing success.

Many of Britain’s senior decision makers, in sectors as diverse as food and drinks, automotive, aviation, distribution, retail, government organisations, utilities and chemicals and pharmaceuticals, had plenty to look at as more than 100 leading suppliers exhibited some of the very latest thinking designed to add value and offer a competitive edge to today’s complex and ever evolving supply chain operations.

And there was no end of supply chain goodies for those decision makers to digest, including supply chain planning and execution software, industrial property, contract distribution, logistics automation, materials handling, packaging and wireless technology.

Soft touch

No supply chain could function effectively and efficiently without the use of the latest IT technology, and visitors to Logistics Link 2004 were met with an extensive array of systems designed to optimise and streamline operations.

Interchain says it was “constantly busy” with visitors showing great interest in its collaborative Chainware solution which, for the first time, is available through a mobile phone. The company also announced at the show that it had signed a major deal – said to be worth more than £1M – which had resulted from an introduction made at Logistics Link 2003.

Visitors to LIS’ stand were treated to a variety of products including the company’s Dispatcher-WWS warehouse management system; VirtualView, which enables businesses to master the extended supply chain; and AcitivityBilling, which integrates with other supply chains for process costing and analysis.

The centrepiece of Proteus Software’s stand was its warehouse management system, offering a robust, high performance method to integrate with existing ERP, inventory or order management systems. The company says Logistics Link generated more than 60 enquiries, with a high number of viable opportunities. Managing director David Gray explains: “Our stand was constantly busy, with delegates queuing to talk to us. We are very encouraged by the high number of enquiries regarding our software, in particular our paperless warehouse management system. We are impressed by the quality of attending companies, and the high calibre of delegates.”

Online Duty & Logistics, part of LIS, profiled several of its supply chain execution systems including a “market-leading” suite of products for bonded warehousing. The company’s business development consultant, Nick Love, comments: “The quality of leads has been very good. There have been more medium-sized companies here than the big boys but we’ve got ten to 15 good leads.”

Hard choices

In addition to industry-focused software provision, the exhibition gave visitors a vital opportunity to assess some of the latest thinking in hardware and specialist technology for the supply chain.

LXE revealed the newest member to its family of Windows-based wireless computers, the MX6 handheld computer, which is designed to be the “perfect handheld computer” for a broad range of data collection applications in the warehouse and distribution centre. It operates on the Windows Pocket PC 2002 operating system with a powerful, battery-saving Intel Xscale PXA255 processor.

And LXE was also pleased with the quality of visitors to its stand. Lisa Bowen, marketing executive, says: “The key is real – real projects, real prospects, real business. We’re really pleased. We’ve been getting logistics directors, managing directors, operations people and IT managers, the people we are targeting.”

Psion Texlogix demonstrated its range of mobile computing and wireless data collection products including the NETBOOK PRO handheld computer while Belgravium highlighted its radio frequency data communications and batch data capture systems.

Industrial print solutions for logistics operations were well represented at Logistics Link 2004 with class-leading technology from Imaje, Computype, ASG Services and Lighthouse on display and generating a high degree of interest. Imaje’s Karen Gibson comments: “We were very happy with the calibre of visitors to the show. We not only recorded a high number of sales leads, but sales leads that were of a very high quality. It was not only a good exhibition for speaking face to face with potential customers, but also a great promotional and awareness activity for Imaje as well.”

i2 Mobile Solutions highlighted its Pendulum software which enables non-programmers to create sophisticated, tailor-made mobile applications for pocket PC devices, “mobilising” a raft of mission-critical business processes.

T@lecom, meanwhile, featured its Runsheet and Express communications solutions. Jan O’ Hara, chief executive officer at T@lecom, says: “We had some very interesting people come to our stand, and some very interesting leads. There was a lot of interest in our track and trace systems and we must have got about 40 leads. One person wanted to buy 1,000 XDAs there and then.”

Lifting success

There is no question that supply chains could not function efficiently without the traditional workhorses – the forklift trucks, pickers and other materials handling equipment. And there was a wide variety for those logistics professionals attending Logistics Link 2004 to see, with the materials handling equipment sector well represented by the likes of Jungheinrich, Linde, Narrow Aisle, Nexen, JCB Compact Products and Still.

Logistics Link 2004 was the venue selected by Jungheinrich for the first UK public showing of its new Series 2 range of electric reach trucks, which offers user benefits in terms of performance, ergonomics and safety.

Another debut at Sandown Park was made by Nexen, which enjoyed interest in not just its range of lift trucks but a new tyre. David Southgate, Nexen’s UK marketing manager, explains: “We’ve been very busy. We’re raising brand awareness and have had a lot of interest in the new tyre [Airtrac] that we’ve got.” The Airtrac is a tough, durable product designed to combat all types of tyre wear and failure. Nexen has been trialling the Airtrac for a year, and has just started marketing the product, adds Southgate.

Linde featured examples of its product range. “We’ve had a pretty good show and have sold 20 VSc Solutions took the opportunity of launching new division VSc Mobile Solutions at the exhibition. The division integrates supply chain fulfilment with in-vehicle telematics monitoring as well as routeing and scheduling systems. The company says it is the first to provide “that last mile of visibility” so that upstream despatch and stock control systems are automatically updated with delivery events as they happen, improving distribution efficiency, planning and customer service.

Fargo Systems showed off its latest TOPS transport management system which, recognising the growing importance of hub and spoke pallet networks, focuses on this rapidly emerging business model. One feature of TOPS is a dedicated pallet job entry wizard together with a facility to split the job down into several distinct trunks. The company’s Kevin Terrill was pleased with the exhibition, saying: “The quality of the leads was fantastic. While other exhibitions may have higher visitor numbers, Logistics Link provided the perfect mix of target audience and numbers for us to not waste any time in following up enquiries.”

Transport industry computer program specialist Vigo Software featured a selection of programs covering hub and spoke overnight delivery services; haulage; warehousing; pick and pack; vehicle management; insurance and claims administration; and proof of delivery.

Road Tech Computer Systems featured its Roadrunner traffic system while Teleroute demonstrated its online freight and vehicle exchange system.

Visitors interested in alternative fuels for their forklift fleets had Flogas on hand offering advice. The liquefied petroleum gas (lpg) specialist highlighted the benefits of lpg as a viable alternative to diesel- or electric-powered trucks. Flogas sales manager Martin Ward says the company “had a good show, and a good level of quality enquiries”.

Distribution excellence

The diversity of service provision by the distribution sector was demonstrated by a variety of operators exhibiting, reflecting the evolving needs of the market for tailored, individual transport and warehousing solutions.

The scope of supply on show in this field matched the varied profile of logistics professional visiting the exhibition, with solutions ranging from full logistics service provision to express overnight full and part-pallet transfer. And the demand for palletised services does not seem to be abating with all of the networks experiencing a steady stream of visitors.

Trevor Mudd, marketing and business development manager at PalletFORCE, comments: “We’ve had some very good quality leads from quality companies such as Kellogg’s. We’ve had about 25 to 30 reasonable leads, and we will pass these onto our membership to deal with.”

Fortec director Rod Abrahams agrees, saying: “We’ve had a lot of interest including an enquiry from Kellogg’s. It’s not a bad show.” And Simon Hazelgrove, sales director at UK Pallets, comments: “It’s been very good. We’ve had good quality interest, better than last year.”

The newest network, Pallnet, was also not disappointed. Chairman Roger Ferguson explains: “We’ve done phenomenally well. I’m amazed at the amount of interest and the quality, especially as we only launched on Friday.”

However, the distribution sector was not just represented by the pallet networks. The Potter Group, KTL Warehousing, LinQ Alliance and Meachers Group Holdings generated their fair share of interest from visitors keen to evaluate the benefits of outsourcing distribution and associated added value services, and all had plenty to tell these prospective customers.

Accommodating business

One of the most significant areas in which many logistics operations have benefited in recent years has been in the provision of industrial property. Spiralling customer expectations, the various channels to market such as Internet shopping and increasingly sophisticated manufacturing techniques have all exerted significant pressures upon many companies, whether making, selling or moving goods.

As vital links in the logistics process, modern distribution facilities have become an important weapon in the fight to work smarter and stay flexible and, in keeping with this, the ways in which they are sourced, specified and paid for continue to evolve.

Key to this has been increasingly sophisticated service provision from warehouse design and build specialists, project managers and industrial agents.

Logistics professionals visiting Logistics Link 2004 were able to benefit from a wealth of solid project expertise in the industrial property field.

Visitors were able to talk to property agent and developer Colliers CRE which was on hand to advise on the crucial elements that are required to be built-in at the design or strategy stage and which could give significant cost savings for occupiers.

Parkfield Projects, which has an established record of design and build, general contracting and project management, highlighted some of its recent projects including the a 3,720sq m factory and office complex for Maun Industries; a new £6M, 4,539sq m state-of-the-art head office and distribution centre for KFF Food Service; Polyex’s 6,400sq m factory, warehouse and office accommodation; and a 5,115sq m distribution centre for DBC Foodservice.

Commenting on the show, Kathryn Moore, marketing manager at Parkfield, says: “It’s been really quite good. We’ve had some good leads, and there are possibly three that look hopeful. This [Logistics Link] is a good show for us. We got a really good project from the first one and another good project at the second one.”

Making its debut at Logistics Link was development agency Doncaster Investment Team, offering guidance to visitors interested in expanding or relocating to the Doncaster area. The agency also focused on some of the companies that have developed distribution facilities there in the past year, including B&Q, Shepborough and Next.

Dressing up

There is no doubt that corporate clothing for staff continues to play an important role within the logistics and supply chain. Whether they are warehousemen or lorry drivers it is usually these employees who are likely to have direct contact with customers, making it crucial for good impressions to be made.

Having made a successful Logistics Link debut last year, corporate clothing business Ansom Moore must have held similar aspirations when it signed up for Logistics Link 2004. The company was not disappointed. Trevor Griffiths, of Ansom Moore, comments: “It’s been terrific. We’ve had some very good quality enquiries from very good people, and from companies with 500-plus people.”

And, having arrived “a bit late” on the first day of the exhibition, Griffiths was astounded to find not just visitors but fellow exhibitors as well queuing for him to start trading! nhand pallet pump trucks. We’ve had some good quality enquiries, so we’re pleased,” says John Maguire, director at Linde Material Handling (UK). Chris Minty, general manager – national accounts and projects at rival Still, agrees: “We’ve had some excellent enquiries, and we’re very pleased so far. It [the exhibition]has been very lucrative for us.”

Automating logistics

Those looking for the latest in flexible, user-friendly and cost-effective warehouse automation technology were not disappointed. Logistics Link 2004 saw Europe’s leading automation and systems integration specialists out in force, demonstrating an unrivalled choice of cutting edge design, project management, implementation and maintenance services for product storage, retrieval and transfer.

Savoye used the exhibition to highlight its PAC 600 automated carton pick and security seal system as well as the Magmatic and AS/RS pallet handling systems for prompt pick face replenishment. Rival SSI Schaefer outlined its one-stop solutions ranging from a simple bay of racking or shelving to fully integrated automated high bay warehousing, and high-speed automated order picking systems. The products include the new generation KDR carton live storage system as well as the very latest multi-trip storage and transit containers.

Knapp UK took the opportunity at Logistics Link 2004 to promote some of its projects covering integrated logistics automation.

Storing success

Storage and handling within warehousing and distribution environments were well covered at Logistics Link 2004, with a host of solutions for materials handling, racking and packaging on display.

A wide variety of racking and shelving systems were displayed by Linpac Storage Systems including its Apex and Linvar brands. The company’s Richard Hirons was pleased with the outcome of exhibiting at Logistics Link: “We’ve had lots of good leads. The show has been very good for networking not just with visitors, but with other exhibitors too.”

Simon Bolton, area sales manager at Arca Systems, was also pleased with the Logistics Link experience, saying: “It’s been very good. The quality of visitors has been very good, and we have achieved what we wanted to from the show. We received some interesting projects too. We’ve enjoyed it.”

Arca exhibited a wide range of products designed for bulk storage and distribution. The display centred on Arca’s Magnum, a foldable pallet container.

On the packaging front, PostSafe demonstrated self-seal polythene envelopes and sacks as well as its new Supertuff sack and trolley, a single use sack that fits on all standard sack holders. Simon Curran, of PostSafe, was “very impressed” by the response his company received at the show. “We’re really pleased with the quality of response, which has been fantastic. The leads, including one from Fortnum & Mason, are certainly going to keep me busy for a few weeks,” he says.

Fleet solutions

Logistics software at the exhibition was complemented by the presence of some of the leading suppliers of information technology products for distribution fleet management. Given the growing environment and congestion-related pressures on fleet operators, telematics, routeing and management software and systems continue to be a key differentiator in the race to meet customer demand.

The centrepiece on Mandata’s stand was its new Application Service Provider (ASP) for Manpack 3, which provides the Windows-based traffic management system with full remote access via a secure Internet link while retaining its ability to integrate seamlessly with warehouse, tracking and finance packages. ASP has enabled Mandata to create a secure environment, allowing Manpack 3 as well as its warehousing suite and other third-party applications to run over the Web.

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