New orders for material handling equipment grew by 7 percent in 2013 and are forecast to grow by at least 8.5 percent this year and 12 percent in 2015, according to the quarterly Material Handling Equipment Manufacturing Forecast (MHEM) released Monday by MHI, the material handling industry's trade group.
Shipments of material handling equipment grew by 7.4 percent in 2013 and are forecast to increase by 6.7 percent this year and 10.7 percent the next year, the report said. Domestic demand, defined by adding domestic and import shipments and subtracting export shipments, grew 7.9 percent and is forecast to grow by slightly more than 7 percent in 2014 and 10 percent in 2015, according to the report.
Imports grew by 3 percent in 2013, down from 17.9-percent growth in 2012. Export growth was flat in 2013, down from 11.2 percent in 2012. MHEM imports and exports are expected to rebound modestly beginning in mid-2014 and to continue growing in 2015, according to the report.
The MHEM forecast looks 12 to 18 months ahead to anticipate changes in the material handling and logistics marketplace, MHI said in a statement.
"We are optimistic about future outcomes and expect economic fundamentals to favorably support MHEM expansion through 2014 and 2015," says Hal Vandiver, MHI executive consultant.
Demand for material handling equipment is expected to be driven by an improving U.S. economy, better outlooks for international economies, and efforts by manufacturers to introduce more automation into their warehousing and distribution operations to increase efficiencies and reduce costs.
The Institute for Supply Management's (ISM's) closely followed monthly report on U.S. manufacturing posted solid numbers in December. The Purchasing Managers Index, or PMI, an aggregate of results from more than 400 purchasing managers, clocked in with its second-highest reading of 2013 at 57 percent. The index of new orders rose to 64.2 percent, its highest monthly reading since April 2010, ISM said.
Bradley J. Holcomb, who chairs the committee that publishes the survey, said the December results capped off a strong second half of 2013 that was "characterized by continuous growth and momentum in manufacturing."