Prova’s head of logistics, St John White, looks back at IMHX 2013… It’s been some weeks now since IMHX, the UK’s premier ‘intralogistics’ exhibition, closed its doors to a reported 19,500 visitors and 400 exhibitors. Undoubtedly, the show was a huge success as a networking opportunity and as a showcase of warehouse automation.
But what really interested me was a comment made by Peter Macleod, editor of SHD magazine during the frenetic four day event. Talking to me on the Savoye stand – where the French automation specialist had just unveiled its new all-electric conveyor Intelis – Peter made the point that while exhibitors spend tens of thousands of pounds at events such as IMHX to show off their latest innovations, logistics is still a people business.
I agree with Peter. The European logistics industry is a mature market, and as such technological developments are gradual, not dramatic. And while I am not denying that there are some exciting innovations in logistics technology – it’s still the people that make the sector such a vibrant and high performing one.
So, while new developments in WMS, automated pallet handling, ASRS and picking, are all important parts of the competitive landscape, have we reached a point where the ‘technological deliverable’ is a given in such a sophisticated and established market. What’s left for companies to leverage is the less tangible, yet powerful weapon of people.
That’s why logistics businesses that have leading-edge systems as a given are doing well in the current market. And those with the right technology – combined with passionate, informed and engaging people – creates an unbeatable business formula.
Perhaps understandably, those involved day to day in the logistics industry become fixated with the hardware of automation. Watch any logistics manager at an exhibition and their eyes almost hypnotically follow any moving engineering process. While new technology is key, those businesses that also invest in the ‘softer’ side of the equation – such as PR, marketing, training and negotiation – are the ones who will enjoy the long-term success and ‘customers for life.’
The next IMHX will take place from 13-16 September 2016 at the NEC, Birmingham.