This month in Modern: The Lift Truck Issue

We break the Modern mold a bit this month by focusing this issue firmly on one piece of equipment—the tried and true backbone of the materials handling industry, the lift truck.

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We break the Modern mold a bit this month by focusing this issue firmly on one piece of equipment—the tried and true backbone of the materials handling industry, the lift truck.

Why put all of our proverbial eggs in one basket? Well, as our reader research has revealed over the past three years, the recession has forced many fleet managers to park a large portion of their existing fleets while they’ve pushed their remaining active trucks to their very functional limits—and beyond. In most cases, that fleet of sidelined trucks is being converted into simple spare parts, scavenged for bits and pieces to keep the worn and battered fleet hobbling along.

While we understand the realities behind these recent fleet management practices, we also realize that it’s been a while since many Modern readers have taken the time to survey just how far truck suppliers have come in terms of technology, power and performance. And if you’re about to finally retire that tattered fleet, it’s best to have a full understanding of the options that have recently hit the market.

Enter Modern’s Lift Truck Issue, our comprehensive look at the current state of the market, from the “new basics” of truck design, to the application of existing truck technologies on the floor, to a look at where suppliers are headed with future truck development.

To gain the full breadth of our coverage, I suggest that you digest this issue in a pre-determined order. I’d start with associate editor Lorie Rogers’ terrific overview of the tried and true “basics” of lift truck design and application. It’s been a while since many fleet managers have brushed up on these fundamentals, and Rogers’ piece is a great re-introduction to counterbalanced, narrow-aisle and low-lift pallet truck functionality.

I’d then swing back to page 31 to get a feel for where the top suppliers stand in terms of revenue and market penetration. And while those top suppliers are on your mind, I’d spend some time with executive editor Bob Trebilcock’s System Report on The Container Store to see just how far the supplier/distributor/user relationship has evolved over the past few years.

In this case, the retailer’s lift truck distributor played a significant part in optimizing a new distribution center through new racking layout and slotting improvements on top of its standard truck maintenance program assistance. In turn, the enhanced relationship helped The Container Store realize a 30% improvement in process time.

And, if you’re eager to peer inside the crystal ball to see where lift truck innovation is heading, I strongly suggest you wrap up with Trebilcock’s outstanding “15 ways the lift truck is evolving”. From ergonomics, RFID integration, advanced automation and robotic functionally, to the development of the lithium ion battery, Trebilcock surveys the leading suppliers on how the trucks of tomorrow will operate, look and feel.

So, if it’s been a while since you caught up on lift truck development and innovation, we got your covered. This celebration of the backbone of materials handling should bring you up to speed in short time.

About the Author

Michael Levans, Group Editorial Director
Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He’s been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years. You can reach him at

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