ProMat 2005: Industry Perspectives

Not all the news was made on the show floor.

"The importance and evolution of our industry," Nofsinger said, "can be witnessed in our RFID Knowledge Center and the multimedia presentation." Nofsinger typically likes to look at what's ahead for the industry and users of the material handling and logistics equipment and technology.

"Material handling and logistics, when thought of as a process, remains at the core of manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal activities and, indeed, at the heart of productivity," he observed.

Ralph Deger, executive chairman of the Material Handling Industry Board of Governors and President of Bushman Equipment, Inc. (Butler, Wis.), shared some facts and views on the economic state of the material handling and logistics industries according to MHIA Roundtable Leaders. According to Deger, consolidation, globalization and the overall economy are the largest factors shaping the current state of the industry.

Deger said the material-handling industry, on a rate of change basis and compared with various leading indexes, saw a turn beginning in the third quarter of 2002 and he predicted continued growth well into 2006.

"We are confident that 2005 will see 9 to 10% growth in both bookings and shipments [of material handling equipment and services]," he said. According to Deger, while equipment and systems providers face some difficult structural issues in the current recovery, the economic underpinnings are clearly in place to support an exciting business climate over the mid-term.

Dr. Dick Ward, MHIA's AGVS product section managing executive, said the automatic guided vehicle (AGV) industry is showing a healthy growth spurt.

"There has been a strong increase of the number of AGV systems and new applications this past year," he said. The increase was more than 50% over last year. Ward attributed the growth to new applications and improved AGVS performance. Non-traditional applications appearing in hospitals, shipping ports and warehouses have contributed to the increases as well.

Another important industry announcement was made by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) and the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA). Ronald Schad, president, NCCCO, said a new certification program ensures that workers who are operating overhead cranes are qualified and trained to carry out their duties.

"By passing written and practical examinations, and meeting medical requirements, certification candidates demonstrate they have the knowledge and skill to safely operate lifting equipment," Schad said.

Hal Vandriver, managing director, CMAA, said his organization and NCCCO share many mutual goals, notably providing employers with a fair and independent method of verifying operator qualifications, and making the work place safer and more productive for all employees

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