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Demand for materials handling equipment to grow 4% annually through 2016

Industry market research suggests U.S. will see gains bolstered by improved manufacturing conditions.
By Modern Materials Handling Staff
August 16, 2012

Global demand for materials handling products is forecast to climb 4 percent annually through 2016 to $123.6 billion, according to World Material Handling Products, a new study by The Freedonia Group. According to the report, opportunities will be best for sales of advanced equipment such as automated conveyors and automated guided vehicles. Automated products reduce the required labor input in operating machinery, helping to curtail labor costs. Energy efficient products, such as electric lift trucks, will also see solid gains as end users seek to reduce costs. The rising importance of e-commerce will also fuel demand for automated equipment, as business is increasingly conducted in large, lightly staffed warehouses.

Among national markets, India and China will see the fastest gains, in large part because of rising manufacturing output which will spur demand for equipment to facilitate distribution and production. West European markets include many of the most intensive users of materials handling equipment in the world, because manufacturers in the region have long been among the leaders in adopting automated equipment as a response to high domestic labor costs.

The U.S. market, which accounted for 22 percent of global sales in 2011, is expected to remain the leading consumer through 2016. After a period of sluggish gains between 2006 and 2011, demand in the U.S. will perform better through 2016, bolstered by improved manufacturing conditions, especially in the motor vehicle industry.

Japan and Germany both possess sizeable markets for materials handling products, although both have performed poorly compared to the global average in recent years.  However, these markets are forecast to post stronger gains, enabling these countries to maintain their position among the global leaders in material handling demand.

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Article Topics

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About the Author

Josh Bond, Contributing Editor
Josh Bond is a contributing editor to Modern. In addition to working on Modern's annual Casebook and being a member of the Show Daily team, Josh covers lift trucks for the magazine.


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