With the exception of Victoria's Secret, most catalog covers have all the allure of steam tables in compelling engineers to open them up. But Rob Birse, marketing manager for electronics catalog distributor Allied, wanted to change that "Okay, it's a catalog. I'll put it on the shelf until I need it" mentality. "Obviously our catalog is our main sales tool, and we felt we needed to create a bigger impact when it arrives on our customers' desks," he explains. By making the cover rich with detail, we felt we would achieve a higher degree of curiosity and get him or her into the catalog." When we interviewed Birse in August, before the new catalog was unveiled, he was being coy about any details on the cover design, only hinting that it would mimic a consumer magazine like Men's Health, which uses life-style photography to attract and inspire readers. He was also quick to point out that the cover isn't the only transformation of Allied's 2003/2004 catalog. In addition to more color photographs of product, he noted that the index has improved, claiming that it will now be ten times easier for an engineer to find the right product. The catalog also contains more data than in the past, which is only the start of what Birse promises to be an explosion in the amount of technical data Allied's catalog will feature.
Both traditional automation companies and startups are developing technologies to improve processes on the factory floor, while smart sensors and other IoT-related technologies are improving how products are handled during transport and across the supply chain.
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