IMHX hots up!
With space sold already having exceeded the total achieved at the last show, even with the event being over six months away, the joint organisers of IMHX – Informa Exhibitions and the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) – are confident that the 2013 show will be the best yet.
The organisers have also announced the plans for show’s first ever Skills & Apprenticeships Zone. “By creating a Skills & Apprenticeships Zone and placing particular emphasis on this area on the Friday of the show,” explained Rob Fisher, IMHX event director, “we aim to use the UK’s leading intralogistics event to bring together enthusiastic and talented young people and the companies needing to recruit them.”
The zone will occupy an area of some 180sq m in Hall 17 of the show, which takes place at the NEC from 19-22 March 2013, and will be spearheaded by the BITA Academy.
With the logistics industry facing a skills shortage, the BITA Academy – a dedicated apprenticeship training facility operated in conjunction with City of Bristol College – was established earlier this year to help find and train the next generation of engineers. Some 200 new apprentices per year need to be recruited as forklift engineers to service the UK’s fleet of internal combustion engine and electrically powered trucks. Supported by all the major manufacturers, suppliers and service firms, the BITA Academy sets a new standard for apprenticeships in fork lift truck engineering and even features an innovative pooling scheme whereby graduate apprentices can move freely between participating companies in order to help them secure a job even if their original sponsor becomes restricted on headcount.
For students, the BITA Academy provides not only high-quality training in essential maintenance and repair techniques but also the skills required to pursue a career all the way to management level.
The Skills & Apprenticeships Zone will also feature the winning vehicles from BITA’s ‘Enduro Challenge’ competition for schools, some hands-on engineering activities and a consultation area for employers. Explained Karl Baum of City of Bristol College, “IMHX will be the culmination of our Enduro Challenge, a nationwide engineering competition for secondary school students to design, build and race an electrically powered vehicle.
"The three best vehicles – winners of the categories for Endurance (furthest distance travelled), Design/Innovation and Entrepreneurship – will be unveiled on the first morning of IMHX. The successful students,” continued Mr Baum, “will be present to receive their prizes of £5,000, £3,000 and £2,000 respectively for their school. In addition, the winning team of the Endurance category will enjoy an expenses-paid visit to a European fork lift truck manufacturing plant. It promises to be very exciting.”
Visitors will also have the opportunity to complete a timed engineering challenge in the Skills & Apprenticeships Zone, competing for the fastest time on a Top Gear-style leader board. Representatives of the BITA Academy will also be providing one-to-one consultations with employers – both visitors and exhibitors – to explain the benefits of apprenticeships and the options available.
Complementing the Skills & Apprenticeships Zone in Hall 17 will be two Seminar Areas and a Recruitment Village that will feature the key recruitment agencies for the materials handling industry.
Exhibitors to promote apprenticeships
A number of IMHX exhibitors will be promoting their own apprenticeship programmes at the show. Automated Technology Group (ATG) Ltd, the UK's largest independent automation control company, has launched an apprenticeship scheme to help its daughter companies – including IMHX exhibitor, Autotech Controls Ltd (stand 19L141) – meet their demand for qualified employees. Branded as the ‘Autotech Academy’, ATG hopes the scheme will attract some 20 apprentices before the end of this year.
Explained Andy Robinson, MD of Autotech Controls Ltd and CEO of ATG, who began his own career as an apprentice, “With the current manufacturing boom in the UK, we have simply been unable to recruit sufficient staff of the right calibre through the traditional channels. As a result, we have taken the decision to launch our own apprenticeship scheme in order to fast-track school leavers and graduates. We will gain engineers to allow our business to continue its expansion and the young people will gain nationally recognised qualifications and transferable skills, while earning a proper salary. It's a win-win solution."
One of the UK’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of storage solutions, APEX Linvar (stand 18N154), has also launched an apprenticeships scheme, and will initially take on three apprentices. The initiative will help the Milton Keynes-based business to achieve its growth plans. Siân Bishop, APEX Linvar’s head of HR and learning & development, commented: “There’s a real buzz around manufacturing at the moment, with the government clearly recognising that a thriving sector is key to the economic success of the country as a whole. But the industry must play its part in driving the sector forward and we need dynamic companies, like APEX Linvar, to create bespoke development programmes that not only demonstrate real value but also provide young people with exciting career choices and opportunities to gain valuable skills and qualifications.”
Briggs Equipment, a leading service and forklift supplier, recently scooped the prize in the Training category at the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) Awards in recognition of its commitment to apprenticeships. The Cannock-based company, which will take stand 20C110 at IMHX, impressed judges with its innovative four-year programme that includes hands-on practical work and classroom-based learning at college. Briggs has also recently launched another training initiative – the ‘Briggs Academy' – to deliver tailored development to all its employees including one-to-one coaching, shadowing and e-learning programmes.
IMHX to showcase diverse solutions for the automotive and manufacturing sectors
Many IMHX exhibitors have products and expertise specifically targeted at the automotive and general manufacturing industries. Austrian battery-charging systems specialist, Fronius (stand 20G127), has supplied a central charging station for fork lift trucks in the bodyshop of BMW’s factory in Munich, Germany. Part of the company’s investment of nearly €0.5bn in the plant for the production of the sixth generation of the BMW 3 Series, the bodyshop processes 600 tonnes of steel a day. Of the 800 forklifts and tractors used at the Munich plant, some 400 are electrically powered so numerous charging stations are scattered around the site.
Earlier this year, Fronius supplied the charging station to service the 104 electric vehicles used by the bodyshop. Drivers change the batteries themselves using a small, overhead crane to which different types of lifting gear can be attached to remove the various lead acid batteries, which can weigh up to 2.2 tonnes. While the battery stations are on the ground floor, the 25 Active Inverter Technology chargers from the Fronius Selectiva Plus 8140 series are located directly underneath in the basement and controlled remotely from above. This arrangement means that the space containing the batteries is more compact and seals the working environment off from the oxyhydrogen produced during charging and, in addition, protects chargers from damage by batteries as they are moved by the crane.
Leicester-based CI Logistics (stand 19L146) has recently completed the installation of a continuously moving, inverted monorail conveyor for the dashboard sub assembly line at Honda’s UK manufacturing plant in Swindon. Designed to transport new Honda Civic dashboards around a 20-station assembly line, the conveyor has increased the process efficiency and reliability of the line. It is an enclosed track, equally pitched towline conveyor, constructed to pull the 20 individual trolleys carrying the dashboards around the assembly line and runs at a speed ranging from 700mm to 1,700mm per minute. The system was successfully installed in a very tight timescale of just four days.
Bott Ltd, the leading manufacturer of industrial and workplace storage solutions, has delivered products to a number of clients in the automotive industry, including GKN Driveline, manufacturer of automotive driveline components. Installed in three different locations within the company’s plant, Bott supplied a variety of drawer units, cupboards and workbenches suitable for use in the heavy-duty manufacturing and maintenance environment.
The majority of the units feature Bott’s bespoke sloped worktops to ensure that engineers cannot leave items lying around. They also feature a display area for project timing plans, KPI charts and planned maintenance schedules. To ensure the units comply with health and safety standards, larger items are contained within cupboards that feature sliding shelves, so that workers can retrieve the items using the correct posture. Bott will be demonstrating many of its storage solutions on stand 20C130 at IMHX 2013.
Interroll, a leading specialist in the field of materials handling and automation, will be exhibiting a number of products used in automotive applications on its stand, 20F102, at IMHX. Interroll’s Flex Flow is used to build line storage racks for storage and ergonomic order picking systems, as well as cell and assembly line feed systems. Specially designed for Kanban systems and assembly lines, Flex Flow can be extended and the height, depth and width of the flow rack adjusted to meet a host of different requirements.
For more heavy-duty applications, Interroll’s Carton Versi Flow can be fitted into Flex frames or carton or pallet racking. This is a modular wheel system, supplied in pre-assembled beds, designed to convert most pallet rack structures or strengthen Kanban and assembly lines into dynamic, heavy-duty flow storage systems for fixtures and components.
At the retail end of the automotive supply chain, a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Cork, Ireland, managed to increase its showroom floor-space by installing an automated storage system supplied by IMHX exhibitor Industore (stand 18M170). By placing the 6m-high Hänel Lean-Lift in the service department of Motor Services Limited (MSL), Industore successfully freed up the equivalent of two cars’ worth of showroom floor area. The Lean-Lift is used to store around 4,000 individual parts used day-to-day by the garage’s service department.
TopVOX, a specialist in speech-based logistics applications and manufacturer of the VOXter hardware system for speech recognition, recently delivered an innovative mobile voice solution – ‘Check by Voice’ – to assist in statutory vehicle inspections (MOTs) in Zug, Switzerland. Equipped with a small, mobile computer (PDA) and a headset, inspectors can report any defects they notice as they conduct the vehicle checks, avoiding time-consuming written reports. After the inspection, the vehicle owner receives a print-out and the reports are automatically invoiced and archived. TopVOX will be exhibiting its voice picking technology on stand 19H74 at IMHX 2013.
SSI Schaefer (stand 18N100), a leading manufacturer and supplier of logistics and material flow systems, has supplied a host of solutions for clients in manufacturing applications. The company helped Komori UK Ltd, a manufacturer of printing machinery, to achieve an impressive 50% reduction in pallet racking floor space thanks to the installation of a mobile storage system at its new site in Leeds, Yorkshire. The reduction in racking footprint meant that Komori was able to reduce its required spend when seeking premises to move its operation to.
Meanwhile, MACO – the door and window hardware manufacturer based in Sittingbourne, Kent – commissioned SSI Schaefer to modify its existing pallet racking to include live storage. MACO required a higher density storage system for box-picked items, previously picked by the pallet, and SSI Schaefer supplied its KDR solution. This versatile, live storage shelving system features flow bed units that can be modified quickly using adjustable hooks instead of screws. At MACO, the KDR flow beds were easily incorporated into the existing pallet racking, allowing the ground floor pallet locations previously used for bulk storage to be used as push-back storage.
IMHX exhibitor, Manbat, which took over the Lucas brand in 2009, markets a range of high-performance batteries for cars, commercial vehicles and industrial vehicles. On its stand 19J145, Manbat will be promoting its Lucas range, which has recently been rebranded in the traditional vivid green with the Lucas name far more prominent. The batteries also feature a new series of icons designed to help factors, workshops and retailers to select the correct battery for each task. The Lucas range covers virtually every battery configuration, starting with the Lucas Classic. Manbat will be promoting its Lucas Fusion battery, the AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) technology of which yields 50% more starting power than the equivalent ‘wet’ battery, and which has a totally sealed case and deep cycle capability.
On stand 18P65, AEB (International) Ltd will be promoting ASSIST4, a comprehensive control suite for global supply chains. AEB has supplied ASSIST4 modules to two companies in the automotive sector to improve their operations and regulatory compliance. For all-terrain vehicle manufacturer Land Rover, AEB supplied its internet-based Compliance Xpress solution. This enables companies to handle the challenges posed by anti-terrorism legislation in the supply chain by checking that vehicles and automotive parts are not being supplied to organisations or individuals designated by UK, EU or US governments as denied parties. For the leading global manufacturer of gas springs, Stabilus, AEB’s ASSIST4 has helped to meet the complex packaging and labelling requirements of its automotive clients. The ASSIST4 global trade and logistics suite has enabled Stabilus – based in Koblenz, Germany – to streamline its shipping processes and steadily increase quality.
Excellent, innovative ideas that we may not have been aware of other than by visiting IMHX.
Materials Handling Manager,Argos Ltd