• Highest ever footfall with over 19,500 visitors attending
• A record 412 exhibitors with diverse solutions for intralogistics
• Show opened by world land speed record breaker, Richard Noble
• A wealth of brand-new products launched at the show
• Design 4 Safety award winners announced
• New autumn slot for IMHX 2016 revealed
The International Materials Handling Exhibition (IMHX 2013) delighted visitors, exhibitors and organisers alike when it took place at Birmingham’s NEC recently. The UK’s leading intralogistics exhibition featured impressively designed stands, thousands of innovative exhibits, informative seminars, a variety of entertainment and plenty of serious business.
The logistics industry’s flagship event, which took place from 19-22 March across four halls of the NEC, attracted not only the highest ever number of exhibitors – 412 – but also a record 19,526 visitors. Rob Fisher, Director of the Materials Handling Group of organiser, Informa, said, "We’re absolutely delighted that we have delivered a record number of visitors at IMHX 2013. Equally as important, the feedback we’ve had from exhibitors shows that the quality of the visitor profile is excellent, resulting in a large volume of high-quality leads from senior people. We worked very hard in the run-up to the show to ensure this level of visitor quality and, for their part, our exhibitors put on a fantastic show for them."
The show’s co-organiser with Informa, the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA), was equally delighted with the exhibition. James Clark, Secretary General of BITA, commented, "Many BITA members have said that they have enjoyed many serious and positive discussions over the four days of the show. Visitors have been upbeat about business prospects and are ready to re-invest. It was a real bonus to see so many young apprentices at the show – after all, they are the future of our industry."
IMHX 2013 exhibitors were delighted with the volume of visitors and the quality of the leads they achieved. For example, Paul Watson, General Sales Manager for Doosan Industrial Vehicles, said, "Doosan had an excellent show. We had one of the biggest and most impressive stands with a huge range of products and we believe that it was well worth our investment." Paula Ovaskainen, Marketing Manager for Cimcorp, agreed: "Our stand at IMHX 2013 was larger than we had ever taken before at this show so that we could install a live demo of our 3D Shuttle robotic handling system, which literally stopped visitors in their tracks. The quantity and quality of the enquiries we received have made our investment very worthwhile."
Dates for IMHX 2016 revealed
For the next IMHX event in three years’ time, the show is moving to an autumn slot and new halls. Explained Rob Fisher, "IMHX 2016 will take place from 13-16 September in halls 9 to 12 of the NEC. Pre-bookings of stands by exhibitors at this year’s show were excellent, so any companies wishing to exhibit in 2016 are advised to reserve their desired stand as soon as possible."
Supersonic Bloodhound wows visitors
Sponsored by BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions, IMHX 2013 was opened by world land speed record breaker, Richard Noble OBE, who is Project Director for the latest record-attempting vehicle, Bloodhound SSC (SuperSonic Car). The 14m-long, jet- and rocket-powered car was displayed throughout IMHX in the show’s Skills & Apprenticeships Zone and Richard gave a fascinating presentation to update visitors with the latest news about the car, which will attempt to pass the 1000mph mark. A sponsor of Bloodhound – which will make its first high-speed runs in the Hakskeen Pan, South Africa, towards the end of this year – is IMHX exhibitor, Linde Material Handling UK, which has been helping the Bloodhound team to load and unload the show car as it travels around the UK. Attracting a world-renowned engineer of Richard’s calibre complemented the current focus of the intralogistics industry to attract fresh blood into engineering. The Skills & Apprenticeships Zone also featured one of the vehicles entering the ‘Enduro Challenge’ engineering competition for schools organised by the BITA Academy, BITA’s dedicated apprenticeship training facility. The challenge, which will take place later this year, is for secondary school teams to design, build and race an electrically powered vehicle.
Free seminars and brand-new feature areas
IMHX also provided a packed programme of free seminars to help companies improve their materials handling. The IMHX Logistics Excellence Conference featured presentations at strategic level delivered by renowned industry experts, while the IMHX Logistics Case Study Conference offered sessions that outlined best practice from a range of blue-chip companies. In addition, the Automated Material Handling Systems Association (AMHSA) offered visitors an insight into a range of logistics automation topics with its ‘Meet the Expert’ presentations in the AMHSA Pavilion. Commented Dave Berridge, Secretary of AMHSA, "IMHX has provided our members with a great opportunity to meet prospective buyers of automated solutions and educate visitors about the benefits of automation. With over 30 of our members exhibiting and our popular ‘Meet the Experts’ seminars creating a hive of activity, the AMHSA Pavilion has been a real destination at IMHX, ensuring that handling automation once again has a high profile at the show." A brand-new feature area at IMHX was the UKWA 3PL Zone, hosted by the United Kingdom Warehousing Association. Roger Williams, CEO of UKWA was delighted with its success, commenting, "We were able to showcase the wide range of products and services offered by our membership of over 600 companies. The presence of leading 3PL companies at IMHX put the full breadth of the supply chain under one roof, giving even more benefit to visitors."
The Design 4 Safety competition, which recognises the importance of product design in improving safety throughout the materials handling industry, made a welcome return to IMHX. Winners in six categories – as judged by an independent panel of experts – were announced on the first day of the show, with the overall ‘Professionals’ Choice’ – Sentry Protection Products with its innovative Collision Sentry forklift collision avoidance system – being decided by visitor voting and revealed on the last day. Another contest that attracted significant interest was the RTITB Operator of the Year Competition, the heats of which took place over the four days of the show. Crowds looked on as skilled forklift operators from across the UK and Ireland competed in a special arena for the chance to move forward to the Grand Final in September. IMHX also provided its exclusive VIP valet parking scheme again, allowing top executives to drive straight up to the show’s entrance, have their vehicle parked securely by a professional driver and enjoy access to the VIP Lounge with complimentary refreshments and Internet facilities. Another brand-new feature that sparked interest at the show was the Social Media Zone, which featured a giant iPhone that displayed the IMHX Twitter feed and which was the focus for a lively Tweet-up on the last morning of the exhibition.
All the fun of the fair
As ever, exhibitors provided a wealth of competitions, hospitality and entertainment to make IMHX a fantastic experience for visitors. Battery specialist, GNB Industrial Power, held daily competitions to win a pair of tickets to a Porsche Carrera race meeting, with a Porsche GT3 Cup Car – sponsored by GNB’s parent group, Exide Technologies – displayed on the stand and Jonas Gelzinis, its 24-year-old driver, on hand to chat. Visitors to the stand of racking and storage specialist, APEX Linvar, had the chance to win an iPad; logistics software supplier, AEB, had an iPod shuffle up for grabs; and logistics systems supplier, SSI Schaefer, held a prize draw to win four tickets to the DTM German Touring Cars racing at Brands Hatch.
LPG supplier, Calor Gas, offered visitors the chance to drive some remote-controlled forklifts and win on-the-spot prizes by guiding them through a series of obstacles. Meanwhile energy specialist, Hoppecke Industrial Batteries, invited visitors to take part in the Extra Mile challenge using a state-of-the-art Wattbike training bike, with contestants’ names added to a ‘Top Gear’-style leader board. Forklift suppliers provided plenty of entertainment too. While Linde Material Handling UK treated the crowds to an aerial acrobatic display at the launch of its new reach truck, Toyota Material Handling UK gave visitors the opportunity to try out its new and unique forklift simulator for the first time and Briggs Equipment UK challenged visitors to a Scalextric contest.
The launch pad for dozens of new forklifts
A large number of forklift models made their début at IMHX 2013. Toyota Material Handling UK previewed its latest products – due for release later in the year – including the new Traigo80 electric-powered forklift and the Lithium Ion warehouse range. Linde Material Handling UK officially unveiled its new reach truck range on the opening morning of the show. The range features models with load capacities from 1.4 to 2.0 tonnes and lift heights up to 13m and can be fitted with an ultra-high visibility, toughened glass roof. Crown Lift Trucks displayed not only the nine new products it has introduced in the UK during the past year but also QuickPick Remote, its new semi-automated low-level order picker. The truck can be used in manual mode or operated remotely via a wireless transceiver glove worn by the picker.
Combilift chose IMHX for the world première of its new Combi-WR Walkie Reach, the company’s first ever pedestrian truck and the only pedestrian reach stacker that can work in an aisle width of 2m, pallet to pallet. The company also showcased its new C4000E multi-directional model, an electric forklift that offers the versatility of both indoor and outdoor operation. Yale Europe Materials Handling showed its ‘V’ series of electric counterbalance forklifts for the first time in the UK, while Doosan unveiled the brand-new 1.4t and 1.6t capacity models in its recently launched 7-series of reach trucks. Translift Bendi used IMHX to launch the world’s first articulated order picking truck, the Bendi Order Picker, which combines man-up order picking with conventional stacking within an aisle just 1.6m wide. Jungheinrich staged the world première of its brand-new reach truck, the ETV 318, at IMHX 2013. With capacities up to 1.8t and lift heights up to 11.5m, the new reach truck features a panoramic roof made of tinted safety glass.
Danish truck manufacturer, Logitrans A/S, showed several models from its range, including its new Twin Stacker, which can transport and stack two pallets at a time. Also making their débuts at IMHX were the French brand, Manitou, the forklift range of which is now available in the UK; CESAB Material Handling, which exhibited for the first time at IMHX with its European-manufactured range of counterbalance, reach, powered pallet and hand pallet trucks; and HC Forklifts UK, recently established to import and distribute – through a nationwide dealer network – the HC range of forklifts from the Chinese manufacturer, Hangcha.
A wealth of innovative solutions for intralogistics
Besides the forklifts, there was plenty more innovation at IMHX. New products ranged from the gigantic, world-first hybrid reach stacker towering over the stand of Cooper Specialised Handling to the Tinytag data loggers – which monitor parameters such as temperature, humidity and vibration for goods in storage or transit – from Gemini Data Loggers. The diversity of products on display at IMHX was overwhelming. Racking and storage systems supplier, Link 51, exhibited its AutoSat automated shuttle racking solution for the first time at the show, offering an alternative to drive-in and other live storage systems. EnerSys Motive Power showed visitors a new model in its Hawker XFC battery range that features advanced Lithium-Ion technology, while GNB Industrial Power revealed its high-power, lead-acid battery – TENSOR – for the first time at the show. Automated solutions included automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) from Egemin Automation and Design 4 Safety competition category winner, OCME. As well as promoting its new Series 50 industrial sectional door, Hörmann showcased its innovative Light Grille pedestrian safety solution, which uses an array of light beams to monitor the door opening – a product that also picked up a Design 4 Safety category award. Other innovative products at IMHX included sprinkler-friendly shelves from storage specialist, BITO; the new HyRack pallet from Goplasticpallets.com; anti-slip and anti-fatigue floor coverings from Plastic Extruders; and Conveyer Belt Forks from B&B Attachments.
A truly international show
The international dimension to the show was also prominent. Highlights from international exhibitors included Cheetah, a high-speed mini-load storage and retrieval machine, launched at IMHX by European Conveyor Systems with its German partner, Gebhardt Fördertechnik. Finnish robotics specialist, Cimcorp, had a working demo of its new 3D Shuttle solution for the fully automatic storage and retrieval of totes required for order fulfilment. Dutch sortation specialist, DistriSort, featured a working split tray sorter on its stand, while German exhibitor, Dürkopp Fördertechnik, shared a stand for the first time at IMHX with its Austrian parent, KNAPP, to promote its new pocket sorter system that enables both hanging garments and flat goods to be carried together on the same system for the first time. Also representing Austria was battery charging specialist, Fronius, which unveiled its new Selectiva range of chargers featuring the innovative Ri charging process, which adjusts the charging phases to make each charging cycle unique and thereby boost energy efficiency and battery service life.