Global boom causes long delays in forklift delivery

News Story
- 29 Jul 2004 ( #168 ) - BRISBANE, Australia
2 min read
The worldwide economic recovery has left forklift manufacturers struggling to keep pace with the increased demand for new machines.
Industry professionals contacted by Forkliftaction.com suggest increased economic activity in the construction sector is reflecting positively on the materials handling industry.
Anecdotal evidence suggests orders for certain earthmoving machines has blown out to more than a year.
Jungheinrich and Raymond, two brands with big presences in the USA, have reported swollen order books as purchasing attitudes change from conservative to aggressive on the back of the economic boom.
James Malvaso, president and CEO of The Raymond Corporation, said the improving economy had boosted orders for warehouse materials handling equipment in the US market.
But the company, one of the US's oldest forklift manufacturers, had put plans in place to temper the impact of increased demand.
"The Raymond Corporation is not experiencing any difficulty meeting customer demand for new warehouse trucks, nor do we anticipate a problem if the growth in orders continues," Malvaso said.
"We made significant investments in our plants and our R&D facilities just prior to and during the recent economic downturn.
"Our investments gave us additional production capacity and enabled Raymond to continue to develop and introduce new products and product innovations over the past several years."
Dirk von Holt, president of the US Industrial Truck Association and president of hand pallet maker Multiton, said the US industry had been caught by surprise by the increase.
"The North American forklift truck market is bouncing back, indeed," he said.
"Factory orders for the first quarter 2004 were 36% above last year's first quarter, and the second quarter was 23% higher than the (corresponding) quarter in 2003.
"These strong movements have certainly had an effect on lead times.
"The industry adjusted to the lesser demand of 2001-2003 and was positively surprised by the strong first two quarters (of this year)."
In Japan, home to Toyota, one of the largest forklift manufacturers in the world, the Japan Industrial Vehicles Association says production in the first quarter surpassed the first quarter of 2003 by 10%.
Keith Edkins, chairman of Castle Forklifts, an independent dealer which sells Heli, Nuova Deta and TCM forklifts, among others, said lead times had "blown out" since the economy began improving.
Edkins, who has operated in the UK forklift market since the 1970s, said orders had been increasing for about a year, but now the trend was "really biting".
"Two years ago I could order a hand pallet truck from China and know it would be on a ship 20 days later," he said.
"Now, that same order would take 65 days to get to the dockside."
Edkins said the situation could turn from over-demand to over-supply very quickly.
"The cyclic nature of this and any other industry means the difference between feast and famine is usually only 2-3%," he said.
"I remember placing an order for an average forklift truck in the late 1970s and being quoted delivery times from 52-78 weeks.
"By 1981, there was such oversupply of trucks that you could buy a truck on two days' notice."
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