World Demand for MH Products: $113 billion by 2014

Global demand for material handling products is projected to rise 6.5 percent per year through 2014, approaching $113 billion, according to World Material Handling Products, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

Demand will benefit from recovery in the key U.S. market, which will rebound from dismal levels in 2009. The U.S. will be among the fastest growing markets and comprise more than one-quarter of world growth through 2009. Demand growth in the Asia/Pacific region will also outpace the global average. India and China will show the strongest growth among national markets.

Despite a modest outlook in the shorter term, U.S. demand for material handling products is expected to rise 8.2 percent per year through 2014. Gains will result from recovery in manufacturing output, which plummeted in 2009 due to the economic recession. Advances will benefit from turnarounds in key markets such as the motor vehicle industry, where production is expected to nearly double by 2014.

The largest national industries are those of the U.S., China, Germany and Japan. U.S. production of material handling products was adversely impacted in 2009 by the poor domestic market, but is expected to recover in conjunction with a rebound in U.S. demand. Germany is the leading net exporter, due to its strong tradition of manufacturing and its proximity to key markets throughout Europe. China has grown into a leading supplier of material handling products, taking advantage not only of its inexpensive labor pool, but also of favorable exchange rates, which have made pricing of Chinese goods especially competitive. China exports products to the US, Western Europe and throughout Asia.

Demand for conventional material handling products—such as industrial trucks and lifts, conveyors, hoists and cranes—will benefit from recovery in developed nations, particularly the U.S. However, advanced/automated material handling products such as robots, automated guided vehicles and software will post the best gains. These types of products can enhance the productivity of the material handling function, and are amenable to integration into larger-scale factory automation and automated warehouse-type environments, the report concludes.

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