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The forklift industry showed modest growth in 2015. And the new year is looking to be even better in terms of the number of new forklifts sold by the world’s largest manufacturers.
Part of that growth has to do with the continued recovery of the US economy, as well as signs of improvement in the world economy. While the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down for the year in 2015 for the firs
t time since 2008, this isn’t always the most reliable indicator of economic growth.
For example, the US Federal Reserve Bank is so optimistic about this year’s continued economic improvement that it is planning on raising its prime interest rate for the first time since the Great Recession began.
And unemployment continues to decline as more and more Americans find steady, full-time work.
Predictions for 2016
Looking at the trend in the forklift industry, it’s safe to say that there will be more consolidations as larger companies acquire smaller businesses to shore up their operations and diversify.
Last year saw Mitsubishi buying UniCarriers, Konecranes buying Terex, and KION buying Belgian automation specialist Egemin Group’s Handling Automation division.
In the US, look for continued expansion by American manufacturers such as Hyster-Yale Materials Handling. Caterpillar continues to work towards improvement.
New Year’s Resolutions
Since its the time for New Year’s resolutions, here are a few for the upcoming year for the forklift industry in general:
Get Back in Shape — Each year, the beginning of the new year finds millions of people pledging to get into better shape. The same can be said by the forklift industry.
Forklift manufacturers need to continue to find innovative new ways to improve productivity and safety. Individual businesses need to find better ways to optimize their forklift fleets for maximizing profits. And forklift operators need to continue to focus on performing their jobs safely and efficiently.
Stay Safer — Each year, thousands of people are injured in forklift-related accidents. Most of these are due to inattention, carelessness, or trying to do too much too quickly.
While speed and efficiency are important, the personal safety of the workforce is more important. This year, everybody needs to slow down, take a deep breath, and work smarter, not faster.
Care for the Planet — As many of the world’s nations came together to sign a historic climate change accord in 2015, it’s time for the forklift industry to get serious about reducing emissions and doing its part to help reduce pollution and literally save the planet.
Electric forklifts produce zero emissions. Plus, they can be used indoors and out. But forklift battery technology has to continue to improve so that we can have forklifts that work cleaner longer.
Find Balance — In 2015, the forklift industry took a huge leap toward automation. More driverless forklifts and other types of automation started to appear in warehouses and factories than ever before.
But this year, we need to make a collective effort to find the right balance between improving efficiency, reducing costs, and maintaining a safe, benevolent workplace for all employees.
Not every job should be replaced by a robot. And those human workers who are displaced need to receive job retraining and placement services so that they can continue to provide for the livelihood of themselves and their families.