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NA 2010: MHIA says industry returns to growth

By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
May 11, 2010

They say that flat is the new up for business. Based on that measure, better times are ahead for materials handling and automation as the industry returns to growth.

The Material Handling Industry of America is forecasting 6% to 8.5% growth in material handling equipment new orders in 2010, according to the latest Material Handling Equipment Manufacturing Forecast (MHEM). The growth in new orders is accompanied by a 1% to 2% growth in material handling shipments this year.

These were just some of the numbers that were released by Hal Vandiver, vice president of business development for the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA), at the annual state of the material handling and logistics industry press conference held at NA 2010 during the final week of April.

MHEM defines new orders as orders placed during the year for new materials handling equipment; shipments are based on when that equipment is manufactured and shipped to the customer.

Still, those relatively modest levels of growth follow significant declines in 2009, when material handling equipment orders contracted by 37.4% and shipments contracted by 34.4%. Looking forward, Vandiver is forecasting an acceleration of growth in the second half of 2010, extending into 2011. “The real opportunity is for next year, when we expect both orders and shipments to be growing in the 18% to 19% range,” said Vandiver.

The return to modest growth has been reflected on the show floor at NA 2010. While the number of exhibitors and the amount of show space was down about 20%, attendance was close to even with NA 2008, which was a banner year. Likewise, early sales of space for next year’s ProMat have been strong. “We were able to sell 63% of the show space for next year’s show in just 7 hours,” Vandiver said. 

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


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