Magazine and newspaper publishing companies have, as you would expect, spent the past few years agonising about how they respond to the growth of the internet. Quite obviously, it represents both a huge opportunity and quite a threat to the printed media. The debate in the publishing industry about how best to exploit the internet continues, and is set to do so for some time. But that’s our business.

Your business is cranes, and the opportunities for the materials handling industry are a little easier to analyse. Of course, the internet offers a new medium for business-to-business marketing and procurement. These opportunities are being opened up to all industries. Materials handling companies, however, have a specific role at the heart of making the whole e-commerce revolution actually work.

We report in this issue that Dietmar Straub, chairman of Dematic’s board, forecasts a boom in materials handling and storage/retrieval systems, as new storage and distribution centres are set up by retailers and e-tailers around the world. And Dematic, with expertise in automation systems as well as overhead cranes, is well placed to take advantage. The question is: are you? But for all the wonders of buying goods at the click of a mouse, it is important to bear in mind that the revolution is taking place on only one side of the supply chain.

The internet has indeed dramatically speeded up the process of placing an order but it has yet to find a way of significantly accelerating delivery to the door. That is the ultimate challenge facing logistics companies.