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International Materials Handling Exhibition IMHX is a must see event for logistics professionals

The International Materials Handling Exhibition (IMHX) will take place at the NEC from 16-19 November. Held only once every three years, it is a must-see event for logistics professionals. In this press release, we preview exhibitor solutions for superstores and the FMCG sector, as well as special handling equipment and cost-saving ideas.

Materials handling solutions for superstores and FMCG
IMHX traditionally draws thousands of visitors from the retail and FMCG sectors, giving them the opportunity to see handling and storage products and services from over 300 exhibitors – all under one roof.

Independent management consultancy Total Logistics (stand 19L72) specialises in all aspects of commercial supply chains. Leading FMCG companies – including Nestlé, Adidas, Unilever and Argos – have turned to the company for highly efficient, practical and robust solutions to their supply chain issues, from strategy definition to implementation and project management. Following a successful project for TK Maxx, Total Logistics designed a revised European supply chain strategy for its parent company TJX Group, enabling expansion whilst delivering cost savings of more than 15%. In the most recent of many projects completed for Asda, Total Logistics devised a distribution infrastructure capable of supporting projected business volumes to 2020. The company’s recommendations to another major supermarket chain, following a sustained period of growth, led to an increase in the grocer’s site capacity of 20% and resulted in the changes being rolled out across its distribution network as best practice.

Exhibitor Psion Teklogix specialises in making mobile workers more productive. The company’s stand, number 18M95, will showcase its rugged, hand-held computers and voice recognition solutions including its most recent additions, Ikôn and NEO. The company has recently supplied a voice picking solution – with Solarsoft Business Systems – to PJH Group, one of Europe’s largest distributors of home improvement products to clients including B&Q and Travis Perkins. The £150,000 order for software and WORKABOUT PRO units will improve picking accuracy, increase the number of picks per day by up to 10% and reduce the time required for staff training. The new voice solution will initially be installed at PJH’s National Distribution Centre in Enfield, which is dedicated to distributing stock to B&Q stores, but will eventually be rolled out.

Forklift manufacturer Jungheinrich will be demonstrating some of its huge range of fork trucks, which features over 600 model variations, on stand 19L100 at IMHX. The company will be promoting its new powered pallet truck, the EME 114, which it expects to become a stalwart of demanding retail and FMCG applications. An extremely compact truck, the EME 114 can be manoeuvred easily, even in tight spaces, and yet can transport loads weighing well over a tonne. The truck comes complete with a built-in charger that can be plugged into any 13-amp socket. Two support wheels located on both sides of the drive wheel make the truck very stable, while an ergonomically shaped tiller ensures that the EME 114 is extremely easy to operate.

Exhibitor Narrow Aisle Ltd (stand 19J75) will be demonstrating its award-winning Flexi range of articulated forklift trucks. The firm recently supplied a fleet of three Flexi EURO trucks to IKEA, the global home furnishings company, for use in the goods-in warehouse at its Milton Keynes store. The trucks will be used to unload incoming vehicles and deliver palletised loads directly to the racking within the store’s warehouse. A compact, four-wheel truck, the Flexi EURO has the ability to lift 1800kg loads to over 8 metres in aisles as narrow as 1600mm, making it ideal for facilities where space is at a premium. The Flexi EURO is able to work inside and outside and this versatility has enabled IKEA to use Flexis instead of a combination of counterbalance and reach trucks, reducing the overall size of the forklift fleet required.

Automated handling systems integrator Dematic (stand 18N110) recently carried out a major upgrade to the national distribution centre of confectionery supplier, Cadbury, in Melbourne, Australia. The result has been a 20% increase in productivity for the facility’s automatic storage and retrieval crane system, while maintaining full distribution capability. The project involved the refurbishment and upgrade of four automated stacker cranes – including adding a new laser positioning system – as well as modernisation of conveyor and sortation systems.

The UK’s leading supplier of forklift truck attachments and masts, B&B Attachments (stand 18M90), will be demonstrating its newly launched Layer Master solution for splitting palletised loads. This revolutionary new clamp, which can be static or fork-mounted, eliminates manual handling for loads that need to be split. Layer Master can lift a third of a 2.4m-high pallet at a time or, alternatively, just a single layer of boxes, enabling the load to be quickly broken down or built up. Suitable for a wide range of products, Layer Master makes contact with the load on all four sides and so requires minimal force to lift, thereby reducing the risk of damage. Says John Lamberth, Operations Director for B&B Attachments, "Already in use within the fresh produce sector, the system is also being trialled by most major supermarket distribution centres."

Specialist handling solutions
With so many exhibitors from all sections of the handling and storage industry, IMHX allows visitors to find solutions to unusual logistics applications, with a range of specialist handling equipment on offer.

Advanced Handling (stand 18M171) takes pride in the design and manufacture of equipment that is custom built to customers’ specific requirements. For example, the company recently provided CueSim – a leading helicopter simulator manufacturer – with a scissor table that could function in three ways: as an aid to loading and unloading, as a working platform and as a maintenance platform with access from underneath the table.

Explosion protection company Pyroban (stand 18M140) is set to show visitors a range of the very latest ATEX solutions for fork trucks operating in zoned hazardous areas. Pyroban converts all types of forklifts so that they cannot be the source of an ignition and are safe for operation where flammable material is being handled or stored – such as in the chemical, pharmaceutical, paint, waste, defence, food & drink and cosmetics industries.

Mobile weighing specialist RAVAS will be introducing its new generation of scale forks for lift trucks – iForks – on stand 20B70. The product is the first completely wireless scale forks system for forklift trucks, using Bluetooth technology to communicate with the cab-mounted weight indicator. With all components fully integrated in the forks, the iForks have no external cabling whatsoever. Dubbed ‘plug & weigh’ by RAVAS, iForks can be installed onto any truck in a matter of minutes to provide instant and accurate weighing of all loads.

Warwickshire-based Cooper Specialised Handling (stand 20G120) offers a comprehensive range of handling equipment for loads above 10 tonnes, supplying lift trucks, cranes, tow tractors and trailer systems to the industrial and port sectors. The company recently secured an order that will see it contribute to the safe decommissioning of a well-known nuclear power station through the supply of a custom-built reachstacker. The Konecranes reachstacker will handle 45-tonne concrete overpacks containing Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) for Magnox North at its Trawsfynydd site. Cooper SH has designed a unique attachment to handle the overpacks, with critical factors including control of the vertical lift, the distance of the driver from the box of ILW and a number of bespoke recovery procedures.

Cost-saving ideas
With the economy just emerging from recession, many exhibitors will be using IMHX as a platform to promote materials handling and storage solutions that can minimise investment and reduce logistics costs.

Transmon Engineering (stand 20D45) will be urging visitors to stop burning rubber and start saving money, with a solution that helps reduce tyre wear by up to 400%. According to the company, up to 80% of forklift tyre wear is caused by wheel spin and directional change while moving. By fitting a small device known as Tyre Savure to the truck, tyre wear can be reduced by 200 to 400%, dramatically increasing tyre life. Tyre Savure prevents the operator from selecting drive mode unless the road speed and engine speed are below acceptable limits. Any IC forklift truck with torque converter transmission can benefit from the system, which also helps to enhance on-site safety and reduce fuel consumption.

Forklift battery charging specialist Fronius (stand 19J117) will be explaining the cost-effectiveness of its energy-efficient solutions. With the cost of a battery charger far outweighed by the cost of the forklift and the battery, the specification of the charger can easily be overlooked. Yet, claims Fronius, the charger plays a major role in optimising the ongoing operating costs. Until now, the lower price of the old-style 50 Hz transformer chargers has resulted in this technology accounting for more than 60% of the market. With lifetime costs now in focus, Fronius has created its Active Inverter Technology, a development of HF technology, which offers vastly superior performance. By ensuring that the charge level of the battery is always optimised, Fronius claims to lengthen the service life of the battery by around 25% and cut electricity costs by up to a third, while also being more environmentally friendly.

Korean forklift manufacturer Doosan will be exhibiting a number of trucks from its extensive range on stand 19H120. Over 80 Doosan models are now available in the UK, from 1.0 to 5.0 tonnes for electric models and from 1.5 to 16.0 tonnes for IC models. Doosan markets two ranges of trucks under its brand: the higher specification Pro-5 series and the entry-level GX range. The dealer-based company has recently introduced six new IC engine models to its GX range, bringing the total number of GX models to ten. Says Doosan UK’s General Manager, Tim Waples, "In the midst of an economic downturn, we know that businesses are keen to keep costs down as they invest to grow and survive. As such, the GX series is very popular with users that perhaps don’t have as intensive an operation as some of our Pro-5 fleet customers, but still need reliability and performance from a proven machine."

Automated handling systems supplier KNAPP UK Ltd (stand 20D30) will be promoting its full range of solutions, with particular emphasis on order picking technologies. Says Craig Rollason, Head of Sales and Marketing for KNAPP UK Ltd, "Although the recession has made it difficult for firms to embrace capital investment, the relatively low cost and fast payback of voice-directed picking systems mean that they have proved popular. With return on investment (ROI) generally under a year, these solutions have helped companies to sweat their assets in the economic downturn. KNAPP, for example, has recently supplied over 300 voice units to one UK supermarket alone." Unlike paper-based or RF systems, voice systems allow staff to use both hands for picking. KNAPP claims that its voice picking solution shows an increase in picking performance over paper picking of up to 35% and over handheld scanner operations of up to 15%.

TVH UK Ltd (stand 20F35) – the worldwide supplier of forklifts, aerial platforms and spare parts – will use IMHX to launch several new products including SmartSweep, an environmentally friendly sweeper. Driven by a standard forklift truck without the need for a hydraulic connection, SmartSweep is up to 70% cheaper than a conventional sweeper. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use in dry conditions, SmartSweep features two pneumatic tyres and a rubber support wheel that combine to give a very small turning circle.

IMHX’s main sponsor Albury Asset Rentals Ltd will be introducing visitors to its range of finance products on stand 20G70. One of the UK’s leading providers of finance for forklift trucks, Albury Asset Rentals has financed over 23,500 forklift trucks for the customers of over 350 materials handling suppliers and manufacturers since 1997. Offering finance products makes the decision to purchase easier for the customer and provides dealers with a valuable competitive edge in difficult economic times. The company offers forklift dealers free software, Albury ToolBox, which calculates rentals and captures proposal information, emailing it direct to Albury.

Other exhibitors at IMHX 2010 will be featuring not only materials handling equipment but also health and safety systems; software solutions; racking and shelving; storage systems; pallets and palletising equipment; property; recruitment and training services; third party logistics; transport and distribution; flooring; packaging; handling system design; financial services; and warehousing.

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