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Another big year for materials handling 2

19 Jan 2017 -
China’s forklift manufacturers continued to make inroads, both in their domestic market and globally, with Anhui Heli ranked10th in the 2016 DHF manufacturers listing, followed closely by Hangcha. The Chinese were out in force at CeMAT in Hannover, where observers were impressed not just by the number of suppliers, but also the range and quality of the products they had on show. LiuGong used CeMAT to launch its new C-series forklifts "designed for export markets rather than merely adapted from domestic designs". 
Ruyi also showed a move from a price focus towards quality, reflecting its dual emphasis on exports and growing domestic marketshare. Maximal also had a number of brand new products on show at CeMAT, including a new rough-terrain forklift said to be the only model of its type produced in China. EP, meanwhile, showed almost 20 new products "suitable for the European market". 

Dematic’s purchase in June by the KION Group shows the rising importance of automation in the new materials handling environment. KION completed the acquisition in November, and John Baysore, previously CEO of Dematic North America, was appointed as president and chief executive officer. Celebrating the closure of the deal, KION CEO Gordon Riske said "the transaction brings together the world's most profitable manufacturer of forklift trucks and warehouse technology with one of the largest and fastest-growing warehouse automation and software solutions providers". 

Energy sources continue to compete in the market, prompting the CeMAT organiser to launch its first-ever energy-themed trade show in the US market. Called Hydrogen + Fuel Cells NORTH AMERICA, it will be staged alongside Solar Power International at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas from 10 to 13 September 2017. Deutsche Messe has been operating an event dubbed Hydrogen + Fuel Cells + Batteries as a distinct showcase at HANNOVER MESSE for more than 20 years. In 2016, the showcase featured more than 160 exhibitors from 25 nations. 

Omega Lift's IP was acquired by Liftking
Failed Canadian heavy forklift manufacturer Omega Lift reached the end of the line in October, when its assets were sold to Hilco Industrial Acquisitions Canada and later auctioned off. Omega Lift left a string of creditors and unhappy customers when it went into liquidation at the hand of its financiers, who were owed more than CAD10.8 million to secured creditors. In November, the company’s remaining assets, its intellectual property, patents and some of its stock, parts and equipment were snapped up by Liftking Manufacturing Corp. 
Meanwhile, in June, Chinese manufacturer Shangli announced it was restructuring after "a terrible period in the last six months". In April, it was understood that Shanghai Shangli Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. (SAL Group) had been badly affected by slowing export sales and loss of marketshare in the domestic market, but the owner, Ye Zhongdao, reinvested in the company, moving to a new factory and attempting to restore market confidence. 

Global market growth appears to be continuing for the forklift sector. Consolidated 2016 figures are not yet available, but the industry is confident of beating 2015 performance, marked by steady growth in the European and American forklift markets. China had slowed in 2015, but its export push continues. Brett Wood, chairman of the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) and president and CEO of Toyota Material Handling North America, says the global forklift truck and the broader materials handling industry continued to be relatively strong, reflecting strong economies particularly in North America and Europe. In fact, several countries recorded truck sales at all-time high levels. 

Heavy, cumbersome loads are stimulating the development of sideloaders, described in a Forkliftaction News special feature as "the chameleon of materials handling equipment - adept at being modified to suit customers’ requirements". Read the full feature here.