Orders for material handling equipment grew 17.1 percent in the first half of 2011—a statistic borne out by recent reports that equipment manufacturers are hiring as fast as they can in both engineering and on the production line. That steep rise is unlikely to last, however.
Overall, orders for material handling equipment of all types are forecast to grow 11 percent in 2011 but will then drop to a 7-percent growth rate in 2012, according to the latest Material Handling Equipment Manufacturing Forecast (MHEM) released by the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA).
Forecasts for U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), investment, and consumption have been downgraded to reflect the growing sentiment that the U.S. and global economies are fragile, said Hal Vandiver, MHIA executive consultant, in a statement. Accordingly, MHIA has reduced its forecast for new orders, shipments, and domestic demand for 2012. "Industrial production activity appears to be softening, and factory operating rates [utilization] are forecast to improve only modestly," he added.
Actual shipments of material handling equipment, which often lag behind orders, are forecast to grow 14 percent in 2011 and 7 to 8 percent in 2012. Domestic demand (shipments plus imports less exports) grew 13.1 percent in the first half of 2011 and is expected to grow 5.5 percent in 2012.
The MHEM forecast of material handling equipment manufacturing is released each quarter by MHIA. The forecast looks 12 to 18 months ahead to anticipate changes in the material handling and logistics marketplace.