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World Material Handling Products

Global demand to rise 4% annually through 2016
Global demand for material handling products is forecast to climb 4.0 percent annually through 2016 to $123.6 billion. Suppliers of automated equipment, such as automated guided vehicles and automated storage and retrieval systems, will see the strongest gains. These newer technologies enable companies to reduce labor costs, particularly in developed nations. Even in countries with low labor costs, automated technology offers improved efficiency and a limited manufacturing footprint, which has helped boost popularity of these products.

Asia/Pacific region to be fastest growing market
The Asia/Pacific region will post the fastest growth rate of any regional market through 2016, advancing 6.1 percent per year, accounting for nearly half of global increases in demand in value terms. In addition, sales of material handling equipment will benefit from recovery in the economies of many large, developed markets, which will rebound from poor performances in 2011.

Among national markets, India and China will see the fastest gains, in large part because of rising manufacturing output, which will spur demand for material handling equipment to facilitate distribution and production. The US market, which accounted for 23 percent of global sales in 2011, is expected to remain the dominant consumer through 2016. After a period of sluggish gains between 2006 and 2011, demand in the US will perform better through 2016, bolstered by improved manufacturing conditions, especially in the motor vehicle industry. Japan and Germany both possess sizeable markets for material handling products, although both countries have seen extremely modest sales growth in recent years. However, these markets are forecast to post stronger gains through 2016, enabling these countries to maintain their position among the global leaders in material handling demand.

Durable goods market to outpace nondurables
In 2011, durable goods manufacturers represented nearly 40 percent of material handling sales worldwide. This market is expected to outperform its nondurable goods counterpart through 2016, in large part because of improved conditions in several important markets, most notably the motor vehicle industry. Nevertheless, sales of material handling products to nondurable goods manufacturers will see solid gains through 2016, reflecting strong outlooks for the chemical and the food and beverage markets. Other markets, including trade and distribution companies, will see growth above the global average through 2016, spurred by the rising prevalence of international trade.

Automated products to register strongest growth
Automated storage and retrieval system and automated guided vehicles will register the strongest growth of any product types through 2016. Strong gains in automated equipment demand will reflect a shift in manufacturers’ preference for products that can enhance productivity and are amenable to integration into larger-scale factory automation and automated warehouse-type environments. Sales of the more conventional material handling products will post solid gains as well, benefiting from improved economic conditions in developed countries throughout the world.


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