Dietmar Straub, chairman of Dematic, has forecasted a boom in materials handling and logistics technology on the back of the e-commerce revolution.

E-commerce in the USA and the entry of European companies in online trading in both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) have given a boost to the demand for logistics systems.

Said Straub: “E-commerce requires high-performance logistics. Each time a customer points and clicks to place an order, he triggers complex logistical IT processes for the online suppliers, requiring a solid basis for the flow of goods and information. For this reason, e-commerce can only function reliably and to the customer’s satisfaction if the logistics are right.” Straub’s comments came as he unveiled financial results which showed that Dematic had followed up its most successful year ever, 1999, with further growth in all its four divisions in the first half of 2000. Order intake rose 34% to E1.8bn in the first six months of this year, putting the target of E3bn for the year easily within reach. Sales in the period increased 19% to E1.14bn.

The most successful foreign subsidiary was Dematic Rapistan in the USA which saw an increase of 54% to E780m. Rapistan has equipped distribution centres for retail chains such as Wal-Mart, Gap, Amway, Walgreen and Eddie Bauer and it has developed capabilities in implementing order fulfilment centres for dotcom companies such as and that it now hopes to exploit in Europe.

In addition to e-commerce logistics, Dematic foresees growth from postal automation, baggage and airfreight systems, and container handling facilities.

In the postal automation sector, Dematic has been awarded contracts for sorting systems by the USA, Brazilian, South Korean, Finnish and French postal services as well as US parcel service UPS.