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ITA raises bar with high-profile meeting

Thursday, 4 Nov 2004 ( #182 ) - MIAMI, FL, United States
News Story News reporter in the US, Roger Renstrom, reports on the 2004 annual meeting of the Industrial Truck Association (ITA). Roger reports that delegates were in agreement that the meeting had reached new plateaus in breadth and depth of information.

"We’ve never had a program like this before," said Dirk von Holt, ITA president. "The bar has been raised significantly." More than 280 delegates from nine countries attended the meeting, held October 23-26 in Miami.

John Henshaw, US assistant secretary of labour for occupational safety and health, gave the keynote address, and, among others, Su En Yi, managing director of the China Industrial Truck Association (CITA), participated in a discussion about the lift truck market in China.

Benoit Passard, vice president of marketing and communication for Kalmar Industries AB of Stockholm, Sweden, made a presentation on behalf of the recently formed Port Equipment Manufacturers Association (PEMA).

An October survey of ITA regular members projected 2004 industry growth of more than 17 per cent in the US, Canada and Mexico. The largest percentage increases were forecast for narrow aisle trucks and hand trucks, both using electric motors.

Within the US market, Mr von Holt projected annual growth averaging 6 per cent over the next six years and leading to the sale of 225,000 trucks by 2010. "The next peak will be higher than the last," he said. The industry sold 191,000 units in the US in 2000 and is bouncing back from the 2002 low of 132,000 trucks.

Mr von Holt noted the importance of emerging technologies such as alternative fuels, hydraulic-free operations and nanotechnology and miniaturisation. Fuel cell powered lift trucks may arrive in two to five years, according to 40 per cent of the ITA supplier group members responding to a survey.

Mr Von Holt said he’d altered his perspective on the lift truck industry. He said that years ago, "I personally thought … that forklift trucks are a mature industry, but that has changed. As long as there is a pallet or a similar handling device, our industry has a lot of room for growth."

Mr von Holt heads Jungheinrich Lift Truck and Multiton MIC Corp/Jungheinrich, both of Richmond, Virginia.

Growth is occurring in Europe with Germany driving "this positive trend together with France", said Ambrogio Bollini, representing the Industrial Truck Division of the European Federation of Materials Handling (FEM). "Italy is facing some small recovery signs right now while the UK was really never deeply affected of any negative trend, perhaps because of not adopting the euro as currency."

Mr Bollini, of Cesab Carrelli Elevatori of Bologna, Italy projected 2005 European industrial truck growth of about 8 per cent with higher rates of growth likely in countries with emerging economies and basic industrial and construction needs rather than "sophisticated logistic developments", said Mr Bollini.

He noted FEM’s new structure as an incorporated non-profit association and cited "the continuous enlargement of the European community" as a driver for the status change.

Industrial truck sales in Japan increased 11 per cent from January through June, reported Takeo Shibuya, head of the Japan Industrial Vehicles Association (JIVA). An updated study projects slower growth in 2004’s second half with a year-to-year increase of 9 per cent versus 2003. Mr Shibuya is associated with Komatsu Forklift of Tokyo, Japan.

"This meeting was a living testimony to the times," said William Montwieler, executive director of Washington, DC-based ITA. "Although there are various segments, there is only one worldwide market, and attendees here in Florida had a good look at it."
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