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Cautious optimism at D/C Expo. (News Trends).

This year's D/C Expo event attracted more than 1,500 attendees with serious buying plans. Almost all plan to make software or systems purchases in the next twelve months--57% within six months.

Companies are slowly dipping their toes back into the IT waters.

That was the impression taken away from D/C Expo, the annual gathering of logistics and supply chain information technology vendors held in late May.

Despite the economy, SARS, and a new travel and terror alert issued just days before the start of the show, 171 vendors and more than 1,500 IT users trekked to the Navy Pier in Chicago to talk about warehouse and transportation management systems, bar codes and printers, third-party logistics providers (3PLs), and especially radio frequency identification (RFID).

While that was about 10% fewer attendees than the previous year, those who took the time to visit the show floor were serious users and not just tire kickers, says Thomas C. Dulaney, president of CS Report Inc., sponsors of the show.

Fifty seven percent of attendees had plans to purchase software or systems within six months of the show; a full 99% of attendees had buying plans within the next twelve months.

"With economic conditions and the war, there has been a lot of uncertainty in the economy," Dulaney says. "But the competitive pressures have not gone away. If you don't beat your competitors on some of the savings that are generated by supply chain technology, it puts you at a disadvantage."

That was also the theme of the keynote address from John Hill, an industry veteran and principal with consulting firm ESYNC.

"Logistics is like riding a bicycle," Hill said. "You keep moving forward or you'll fall down!"

Hill offered two key pieces of advice to attendees. One is that the random implementation of supply chain technology merely leaves an enterprise in disarray. Solid systems, on the other hand, support the operating strategy, meet financial targets, and facilitate expansion and change.

That advice was taken to heart by attendees. "There was a lot of interest in targeted point solutions like warehouse management, bar codes and RFID, and materials handling controls systems instead of the big implementations that were popular a few years ago," says Dulaney.

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Publication:Modern Materials Handling
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2003
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