Industry 4.0 and labour shortages loom in UK

News Story
- 11 Jan 2018 ( #854 ) - London, United Kingdom
3 min read
BITA secretary-general James Clark
BITA secretary-general James Clark
The UK forklift market is entering 2018 with uncertainty still suppressing strong underlying demand, according to James Clark, secretary-general of the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA).

"Those best placed to take advantage, when clarity of outcome appears through the fog of political rhetoric, will have positioned their business in anticipation of new opportunities. However, correctly targeting investment prior to the crystallisation of a Brexit outcome requires vision and intelligence," he notes.

Clark identifies Industry 4.0 and the advent of 'big data' as an example of the challenges facing the industry. "Leveraging data to improve efficiency and safety, and mitigating uncertainty risk by increasing flexibility are realistic ambitions. However, clear and measurable goals are required to avoid drowning in a sea of data. It is converting data into useful business information, and acting decisively upon it, that is the real challenge."

In an increasingly complex world, understanding these challenges requires connectivity, not just of equipment, but also of people and organisations, Clark adds. "If a machine generates reliability data, does that data belong to the equipment operator, or to the machine builder? Is it permitted to collect, transmit, or trade data that identifies a machine operator? Understanding these questions, finding the answers, and lobbying for a favourable regulatory landscape require social connectivity."

Trade associations are a respected repository of knowledge, and provide a forum for pooling experience and unifying an industry sector voice, he stresses. This "collaborate and compete" ethos integrates stakeholders, vertically and horizontally, to provide a trusted interface between industry, users and the authorities.

Another challenge facing the UK market is the 'Brexodus' of the EU workers on which the UK's logistics sector has come to rely in recent years, according to Rob Fisher, event director, IMHX 2019.

"Recent statistics show that in the 12 months following the Brexit vote, net UK migration fell by 106,000 - the largest drop ever recorded in a single year - with EU citizens accounting for more than three quarters of the deficit."

This drop has added to the industry's long-standing labour problem. "And, while fewer European workers appear to be available for work in distribution centres, the UK consumer's appetite for buying goods over the internet remains undiminished," he explains.

"This concern over a possible shortage of labour post-Brexit is creating a strong focus on automation, robotics and artificial intelligence, and to ensure they are able to offer consumers the service they have come to expect, when labour is becoming harder to find, many fulfilment specialists are beginning to automate their operations by bringing goods to the person.

"From the bookings we have already taken and the interest being expressed in IMHX 2019 from some of the leading names in the automation, robotics and artificial intelligence fields, it is clear that these technologies will play an increasingly significant role in the future of UK supply chains," says Fisher.

The UK ended 2017 on a high note, with sales of trucks rising by 8.2% year-on-year, reaching 33,407 by the end of the third quarter.

This was the third successive quarter of growth, painting a picture of a sector that can withstand short-term economic fluctuations, according to BITA's Clark.

"Despite the uncertain economic environment, forklift sales have continued their recovery from the downturn seen during H2 of 2016, particularly in the retail distribution and manufacturing sectors," Clark said.
Labour challenges loom in 2024
Labour challenges loom in 2024 28 Dec 2023 - 10 min read
European construction equipment industry optimistic
European construction equipment industry optimistic 18 Mar 2021 - Brussels, Belgium - 2 min read
UKMHA optimistic about 2021
UKMHA optimistic about 2021 25 Feb 2021 - Berkshire, United Kingdom - 2 min read
Previously about:
New UK body launched News Story - 28 Jan 2021 - United Kingdom - 2 min read
BITA’s Clark retires News Story - 17 Dec 2020 - Ascot, United Kingdom - 2 min read
IMHX back on track News Story - 10 Sep 2020 - Birmingham, United Kingdom - 1 min read
UK market faces challenges News Story - 29 Sep 2022 - Birmingham, United Kingdom - 3 min read
Smaller IMHX hailed a success News Story - 22 Sep 2022 - Birmingham, United Kingdom - 6 min read
Events update News Story - 11 Aug 2022 - 2 min read
Do you have materials handling news? Submit your news here

PREMIUM business

Hyster-Yale Asia-Pacific Pty Ltd
We fully support a range of lift trucks from design to service, primarily under the Hyster® and Yale® brand names.

Tangshan SHENGHANG, the leading manufacturer and OEM supplier of forklift masts, beams, mast assembly, and other steel products will show their innovative offerings at LogiMAT 2024.

Visit us at Hall 10, Stand 10D01.

Download our Company Profile here.

Words of support …

I know I can count on them. They give valuable suggestions on the campaign planning, and to publish content is as easy as abc, as they take care of the material layout and check links. This is a great support.

Annalisa Castellini, Marketing Manager - Bolzoni S.p.A.

Are you recruiting? Find your ideal candidate among a diverse range of materials handling professionals:

Forkliftaction's JOB MARKET

We are over the moon to report that Forkliftaction's average web traffic for 2023 grew by a HUGE 58% when compared to 2022.

With our new average of +1,000,000 web visits per month, there's nothing we can't  achieve together in 2024!

To learn how Forkliftaction can support your brand's growth: DOWNLOAD THE MEDIA KIT

PREMIUM business

Telematics for industrial fleets. Fleet & safety management solutions: track vehicles, boost efficiency, operate safer, & avoid unexpected downtime.

Are you recruiting? Find your ideal candidate among a diverse range of materials handling professionals:

Forkliftaction's JOB MARKET

PREMIUM business

Combilift Ltd
Manufactures world class 4-way Handling Solutions

Are you recruiting? Find your ideal candidate among a diverse range of materials handling professionals:

Forkliftaction's JOB MARKET

Focusing on key topics that address the needs of the current market, our industry features are a great way to contribute to the materials handling conversation in 2024.

Share your insights and guidence, and show the community how your products are addressing the unique needs of today's materials handling operators.

Contributor expressions of interest are now open!

Questions? Please reach out