Logistics and supply chain professionals headed to Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in their thousands in September for four days of networking, free seminars, and state-of-the-art intralogistics solutions.
IMHX, the UK’s largest and most comprehensive materials handling event , which took place between 24 – 27 September, attracted over 16,000 senior executives from many leading brands in retail and manufacturing, including Amazon, Oliver Bonas, PepsiCo, Aldi, Royal Mail, Matalan, Menzies Distribution, Ocado, Mercedes-Benz, TK Maxx, ASOS, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Selfridges and RS Components.
Debra Wilkins, marketing manager of Kardex Remstar, commented: “Throughout the show the calibre of visitors was very impressive and we had the kind of conversations that are meaningful and matter to us.”
Miles Griffin, general manager of Cesab Materials Handling, said: “We were run off our feet dealing with the level of enquiries we had. The show attracted quality personnel from top companies and they were all looking to do business.”
Emma Daniels, head of marketing (Greater Europe) at Swisslog Logistics Automation, said: “We met some great brands who are all keen to engage. IMHX 2019 was a very impressive event.”
John Maguire, managing director, Narrow Aisle Ltd, added: “IMHX 2019 was a tremendous success for Narrow Aisle. On the first day of the show we took a significant order and that set the tone for the rest of the week.”
IMHX event director, Rob Fisher, commented: “IMHX is a ‘must-attend’ show for anyone who needs to keep up-to-date with the latest innovations, solutions and insights that are shaping modern intralogistics.
“I am delighted that so many exhibitors have hailed IMHX 2019 as a success - praising the excellent quality of attendees, the high level of engagement and quantity of new leads and orders taken over the four days of the event.
“The aisles were busy with buyers ready to do business and many of our exhibitors have already reported significant deals and orders.
“There was a great range of new products and technologies on display, which provided a real buzz and illustrates how the intralogistics sector is constantly innovating and evolving.
“We’re particularly grateful for the continuing support of our main event sponsor - Investec – and, of course, our speakers, exhibitors and visitors, who all contributed to a fantastic show.”
Over 450 exhibitors
Featuring over 450 exhibitors – including industry giants such as Dematic, Swisslog, Knapp, Vanderlande, Toyota, Crown, Doosan, JCB, Briggs, Hyster-Yale and many more – the show was the launch pad for some of the most advanced intralogistics solutions ever seen.
For example, IMHX 2019 saw the official introduction of Narrow Aisle Ltd’s new Flexi ACiON and Flexi LiTHiON VNA lift truck ranges. With all drive, hydraulic and power-steering functions controlled digitally, the trucks in the Flexi AC iON (lead acid battery-powered) and Flexi LiTHiON (lithium-ion battery-powered) collections are described as a ‘tour de force’ in articulated lift truck drivability and reliability.
Meanwhile, JCB unveiled the second electric-powered machine in its Teletruk range. The JCB 35-22E has a lift capacity of 3.5 tonnes and joins the new JCB 30-19E battery powered model.. These new models bring the proven advantages of the unique Teletruk to applications, such as warehouses based close to residential areas where zero emissions and near silent operation are required.
Doosan debuted a number of new products, including the versatile 1,500kg capacity electric pallet truck – the BPSC15E-7 lateral drive, which has a built-in charger, long-life batteries and a compact chassis for extra maneuverability.
Leading warehouse automation and software provider, Swisslog, presented a suite of innovations based on self-optimising, modular, software-driven and robotic technology.
Conveyor technology expert Interroll showcased a number of innovations at IMHX and gave a UK premiere to the company’s DC Platform - a solution that comprises a new RollerDrive EC5000 motorised roller, controls and power supplies.
Crown Lift Trucks used IMHX 2019 to launch its new ESR 1000 Series reach truck. The ESR 1000 is packed with new technology to improve safety and productivity and delivers lift heights up to 13 metres with a load capacity up to 2 tonnes.
With automation becoming a strategic focus area for decision makers throughout the industry, the expanding role of AI and automation within the modern supply chain was reflected at IMHX 2019. Interactive collaborative robots, autonomous guided vehicles (AGV) and intelligent picking solutions are just a few examples of the equipment displayed, with a record number of exhibitors showcasing some form of automation, robotics or autonomous vehicle.
And within the IMHX Technology Arena, AMHSA – the leading trade association for logistics automation providers – delivered an interactive feature that explained the development of picking technologies and demonstrated how automation brings speed and accuracy to the picking operation. AMHSA experts were on hand throughout to explain different picking technologies and provide professional advice on all aspects of logistics automation.
Among the high tech developments on show was a driverless container transporter, offered by Bito Storage Systems, which helps to reduce travel times for returns within e-Commerce warehouses while on Knapp’s stand an automated storage and retrieval system which achieves up to six times the rate of totes in/out than a traditional ASRS and requires about 20 per cent less footprint drew considerable interest.
While IMHX offered visitors the chance meet some of the biggest and best known global suppliers of intralogistics solutions, there were plenty of never-before-seen innovations in supply chain technology shown by companies with whom visitors may have been less familiar.
For instance, China-owned forklift manufacturer, BYD, unveiled a new generation of lithium-ion powered lift trucks that offer multi-shift performance without battery changes; Campisa highlighted its range of low maintenance and cost-efficient loading bay doors and dock levellers; Swiss materials handling specialist WRH Global premiered a mobile sortation system designed to meet e-commerce demands; 6 River Systems displayed scalable warehouse automation solutions powered by collaborative robots and artificial intelligence; RAX exhibited its range of highly innovative automation solutions for picking small items with wide SKU ranges; and Geek+ promoted a collection of super intelligent robot-based logistics solutions.
Free-to-Attend Seminar Programme
In addition to getting around hundreds of stands, visitors also had the chance to listen to over 80 expert speakers who delivered more than 100 hours of free-to-attend presentations, panels and workshops across four dedicated theatres during IMHX 2019.
Speakers included a number of top-level logisticians such as: Alex Harvey, General Manager OSP Warehouse Automation, Ocado Technology; Barry Morgan, Solution Specialist – Logistics, The Co-op: and David Hix, Supply Chain Director, Nestle UK&I.
In addition, IMHX 2019 played host to this year’s Women in Logistics Conference. With the theme “Innovation: Change Unlocks Value” the conference featured an impressive line-up of speakers, including Professor Omera Khan from the Royal Holloway University of London who explored how design can drive supply chain efficiency in her opening address.
The Skills Agenda
While hundreds of interactive demonstrations afford visitors a real ‘feel’ for the products and solutions on show, one of the most popular ‘hands-on’ aspects of this year’s event was the Forklift Operator Challenge.
Organised by Talent in Logistics in partnership with UniCarriers, the Forklift Operator Challenge took place every day at IMHX 2019 and gave lift truck operators the chance to show their skills, knowledge and understanding of the need for safe forklift operation by undertaking a series of tests and handling tasks.
The operators used the award-winning Unicarriers TX3 electric counterbalance truck and UniCarriers provided each entrant with a truck familiarisation session to ensure that they were able to enjoy the truck’s new technology and extra features.
The Forklift Operator Challenge demonstrated the importance of skilled, safe, and efficient forklift operators to the productivity and profitability of any operation and was one of a number of features at IMHX 2019 that highlighted the importance of skills and training.
The Skills Zone also provided a unique opportunity for young people to learn about the diverse career options that logistics offers. Delivered in partnership with The Big Bang Near Me - organiser of a programme of UK-wide events designed to encourage students to become interested in science, technology and engineering, and Think Logistics - a sector-led initiative that aims to redefine the image of working in logistics, the Skills Zone was also supported by a number of key industry bodies, including the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), NOVUS and the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA).
IMHX Event Director, Rob Fisher, said: “The logistics sector employs a total of 2.35 million people in the UK, either directly or indirectly. That’s a huge number, accounting for nearly 8% of the UK workforce. With demand on the logistics sector forecast to grow significantly in the coming years, employers need to have the best talent on board. That is proving quite a challenge. The IMHX 2019 Skills Zone was designed to bridge the gap between young people looking for a rewarding career and logistics companies seeking talented individuals capable of moving the profession forward.”
The good news for anyone who didn’t manage to get along to IMHX 2019 is you don’t have too long to wait for the next event in the IMHX series!
On the opening day of this year’s event, it was announced that, following an extensive period of consultation involving many of the leading manufacturers and suppliers of equipment and technology to the logistics sector as well as other partners and stakeholders, IMHX will increase its frequency to every two years.
This means that the next IMHX takes place at the NEC on September 14-16, 2021.
Announcing the increased frequency, Rob Fisher said: “It is well publicised that the speed of change within logistics operations has never been greater. As the UK’s leading supply chain event we cannot be left in the wake of this change. We need to be at the forefront of it - enabling discussion and debate and providing exhibitors with a dynamic platform where they can showcase cutting-edge solutions.”
James Clark, Secretary General, of BITA (the British Industrial Truck Association) who, in partnership with Informa Markets, co-own IMHX, said: “The feeling among BITA members and other key stakeholders is that the change to a biennial cycle will better suit the sourcing and procurement demands of the show’s visitors and provide exhibitors with enhanced opportunities to engage with key customers and connect with prospective new ones. “
Stand space is already disappearing fast at IMHX 2021 with 40% already allocated. Visit www.imhx.net to find out more about exhibiting.