Industry Slowdown Predicted

CLEVELAND—Speaking at a gathering of material handling industry news editors, Hal Vandiver, executive vice president of business development, MHIA, said, following several years of consecutive growth, the material handling industry was expected to contract a bit in 2008 and 2009.

"We've had double-digit growth in the last few years," said Vandiver, "but there is a cycle to business." And that cycle is expected to swing upward in 2010.

According to information from MHIA, in 2007, the total consumption of material handling equipment was up 5.3% over 2006, while new orders grew 8.3% and shipments grew 8.9%. For the coming year, MHIA anticipates overall consumption (defined as production plus imports less exports) to contract by 5%, new orders to drop by 5% to 7%, and shipments to drop 2% to 4%.

Looking at the statistics, Vandiver says some segments of the industry, lift trucks for example, are already showing signs of slowing, while other areas are growing. "The overhead handling segment, including cranes, hoists and monorails, is still growing at double-digit rates, primarily because of expansion in the ports," said Vandiver.

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