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France's D.A. Expo Sees Record Turnout, Honors Innovation

Posted On: 12/25/2002

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PARIS - The 7th biennial D.A. Expo International trade show broke records for attendance and exhibitor participation, drawing 12,677 visitors to view the latest in equipment, products and services displayed by 248 exhibitors.

The show is sponsored by NAVSA (Syndicat Nationale de Vente et Services Automatiques), France's national vending trade association, and managed by Reed Expositions France. The organizers reported that 2002 attendance was up 8% over last year's turnout of 11,768, while exhibiting companies increased 11% from 2000's 224.

Again in 2002, D.A. Expo Vending Innovation Awards were presented to exhibitors who had introduced especially noteworthy equipment, accessories, products and services during the prior year.

Winning top honors in the Vending Machines and Dispensers category was the Wittenborg "7600," exhibited at D.A. Expo by N&W Global Vending SAS. This 600-cup-capacity machine vends hot beverages, and optionally can offer chilled still or carbonated drinks as well. It features modular "suspended" product tanks and a newly designed mixing system. The machine can be disassembled and reassembled without tools, which makes it very simple to clean and maintain.

Receiving special-mention honors for Vending Machines and Dispensers was Sotoco, which exhibited the "Twist de Relax" soluble-product hot and cold beverage vender at D.A. Expo. An unusual feature of the 10-select "Twist de Relax" is a system that mixes the product directly in the cup, using multiple streams of water projected by a nozzle rotating at more than 150 RPM. The machine also features an automatic cleaning cycle, using the rotating sprayers.

Winning the Food & Beverage Products for Vending Machines prize was Nestlé Waters, honored for its "Vittel Special" half-liter PET vending bottle. According to competition judges, mineral water is a popular vending product known for packaging that can deform under pressure and fail to vend. The "Vittle Special" has been designed specifically with reinforcement at critical points, to eliminate this problem. It also has the same diameter as standard beverage cans, so it can be vended readily through "column" or "coil" machines with no adjustment other than depth.

Carrying off the palm for Accessories & Consumables innovation was Hydrobios, which markets "Aquaprime" compatible "TOS-10" filter cartridges from South Eastern Filtration Equipment Systems (Canton, GA). Designed initially for foodservice use in applications requiring hot water or steam, the filter system can process up to 24,000 liters of water, removing chlorine at rates up to six liters per minute while preventing mineral deposition. It also features microfiltration to remove sediment and rust, providing broad-spectrum protection.

Winner of the D.A. Expo 2002 Award for Payment Systems & Information Technology was Comestero, which exhibited the "RM5 Selfprog" electronic coin mechanism. A novel feature of the "RM5" is that its recognition program can be "cloned" , the data stored in one mechanism may be used to program others, by the intermediation of a "reference token." The "RM5" validates coins by a combination of electromagnetic induction and optical measurement.

Earning Special Mention in this category was SAF Liquide Welding, which has developed the "Storex" system. This is an innovative application of vending technology in factories to provide controlled access to welding guns and parts. A computer governs up to eight "distributors" that deliver the tools, keep track of who has them and when they are returned, and generates reports and resupply messages.

Top honors for Concepts and Derivative Services went to Masterfoods SCS, which demonstrated a Marketing Efficiency approach to optimizing sales through snack vending machines. "La Démarche Efficacité" has applied Masterfoods' experience with category management in mass-market retailing, plus its knowledge of the vending market, to the development of marketing tools and training support that can increase sales and profitability, enhance personnel efficiency and improve customer satisfaction.

Recognized in this category for Special Mention was General Acceptance & Credit Corp. Ltd. (GACC) for its "ODAO" software, a versatile computer-assisted diagnostic tool that makes use of the expert-system artificial intelligence approach. It models the behavior of a human expert, providing logical and adaptive reasoning. In use, it interacts with the operator, who enters symptoms (and the lack of symptoms) in response to prompts and receives a list of likely causes. Its modifiable databases can be built up over time, and it provides a "consultation" mode that allows the user to access these databases for specific purposes.

A key participant in D.A. Expo 2002 was the European Vending Association, which this year is celebrating the smooth transition of France and 11 other members of the European Union to the "euro" supranational currency. As of January 1, the same coins and banknotes can be used to make purchases from the Arctic Circle to the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. More than 300 million people made the changeover from their former national currencies to the "euro" system, without incident; and the vending industry rose to the occasion by converting its equipment to handle the new currency. France's NAVSA is one of the national vending associations that work together through membership in EVA, a fruitful affiliation that resolved many potential difficulties during the preparation for introducing the "euro" system.

France has not been immune from the economic obstacles facing most of the world over the past year and a half, and the nation has enacted a law imposing a 35-hour work week that challenges vending operators to maximize sales to compensate for reduced exposure. The solid growth of D.A. Expo shows that the appeal of vending in France nevertheless remains strong, and is recognized by other nations.

In 2002, there was a 12% increase in international visitors, to 2,891. Of these, 78% were from other nations in the European Union. Of the 248 exhibitors, one-third was from countries other than France. While French participation in the exhibits increased 8% over 2000, foreign participation increased 17%, as the opportunity presented by the robust French vending sector has become more widely known.

While 75% of showgoers were operators, manufacturers and suppliers, 25% were from organizations interested in obtaining vending services for a wide range of sites and applications.

"D.A. Expo 2002 reflected the renewed confidence of vending operators regarding the prospects for the market's development," the show's sponsors reported. More than half of the show's visitors attended for the purpose of placing or confirming orders, up from 36% in 2000. Of operators attending, 33% were searching for new products, and 25% hoped to discover new technology.

NAVSA also organized a number of special-interest seminars in conjunction with D.A. Expo, on topics ranging from electronic payment systemS to information technology. A round table idea exchange on new vending markets also was well attended.

Information on D.A. Expo can be found online at NAVSA is headquartered at 34 Rue Boursault, F-75017 Paris, France; it maintains a website (in French) at