Demand grows for materials handling equipment

by Array

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—The next 18 months should be good ones for the materials handling industry.

MHI, formerly known as the Material Handling Institute, is forecasting orders for new materials handling equipment to grow between five and six percent in 2013. MHI expects 2014 to exhibit even stronger growth, and projects an increase in sales of 10 percent or more.

This comes after a strong 2012 when materials handling equipment new orders grew 7.2 percent.

“As the current US economic expansion shifts from capital expenditure-driven to consumer-led, we anticipate modest, positive materials handling equipment manufacturing (MHEM) growth for 2013. Housing, automotive rebounds and expansion in industrial, warehouse and commercial buildings (over 69 percent between 2014 and 2018) will contribute substantially to improved MHEM growth for 2014 and beyond,” says Hal Vandiver, MHI executive consultant.

Shipments of materials handling equipment were also up last year. They increased 9.8 percent from 2011 and MHI predicts they will continue to rise. The Charlotte, North Carolina association forecasts a growth rate of 3.5 percent in 2013 followed by a 9.1 percent increase in 2014.

US domestic demand (shipments plus imports less exports) grew 10.9 percent in 2012 and is estimated to grow 3.4 percent in 2013 and just over 9.5 percent in 2014.

Despite the positive outlook, there were a few statistics that showed signs of weakness. MHEM trade growth slowed by more than 50 percent in 2012. US import growth in 2012 was 19.9 percent lower than the 2011 figure. US export growth was was 11.2 percent in 2012, down from 26.2 percent in 2011. MHEM imports and exports are expected to slow dramatically in 2013 and rebound modestly beginning mid-2014.

All figures come from MHI’s latest Material Handling Equipment Manufacturing (MHEM) Forecast, which is produced every quarter.