Strong forklift showing at LogiMAT

Allan Leibowitz -
News Story
- 4 May 2023 ( #1126 ) - Stuttgart, Germany
9 min read
Record attendance at LogiMAT
Record attendance at LogiMAT

LogiMAT 2023 saw a significant increase in automation solutions, but traditional forklifts were still very visible, filling almost two of the 10 halls and a significant part of the outdoor area.

Most of the major manufacturers were represented, with the largest players building elaborate stands to show off new products and reinforce the major trends – the move to new power sources, larger capacity, more compact form factors, and improved integration with the automated solutions with which they increasingly co-exist.

Andy Yang
Andy Yang

Among the product launches at this year’s show, China’s Hangcha attracted strong attention with its first fuel cell forklift, which is already enjoying healthy orders in its home market, and with its heavy-duty lithium ion batteries powering the XH series of outdoor forklifts.

Hangcha Europe managing director Andy Yang says: “Hangcha was the first manufacturer in China to develop fuel cell forklifts, and now our fuel cell forklift has a very good market in China, and I believe this will be a development trend for the forklift industry in the future.”

Yang believes the forklift market in Europe is going to be “difficult and very competitive in the next one to two years” due to geopolitical pressures.

He is nonetheless optimistic about the opportunities for Chinese manufacturers, which are being better received as quality increases.

BYD also attracted interest in its energy-efficient forklifts, including the latest ECB25i-C counterbalance truck with a new drive unit and an electronic parking brake with automatic battery sleep mode.

Ireland’s Combilift launched its first of five new products planned for its 25th anniversary year.

The COMBi-CUBE, a new electric model, combines Combilift’s long-load capabilities with a compact platform designed around its two batteries.

Besides the compact form factor, the forklift boasts the company’s innovative 360-degree steering that enables seamless directional change while on the move.

The large rear wheel and rubber tyres mean that this model is not restricted to super-flat floors and is suitable for working indoors and out, ensuring that semi-rough terrain is no impediment to reliable operation. 

Co-founder Martin McVicar says while LogiMAT is important to Combilift, the company will be using the LIGNA timber show in Hannover this month to launch “another completely new product”.

McVicar is flagging 2023 as another record year for his company, but he says supply chain challenges with a number of electronic components are holding back growth. “Supply chain is still a challenge, and although we carry a lot of inventory, shortages are hampering our growth.”

LogiMAT 2023 attracted a record attendance of 62,343 industry professionals, up 25% from last year.

A total of 1,563 exhibitors from 39 nations filled all 10 fully booked exhibit halls of the Messe Stuttgart convention centre, covering 125,000 sqm.

EUROEXPO

Toyota returned to LogiMAT with a stand celebrating its association with the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Three new models were shown in the booth: the BT Levio LSI200 2 T stand-in powered pallet truck, the BT Staxio SSI200D 2 T stand-in double stacker truck and the BT Staxio SSI160LN 1.6 T narrow stand-in stacker truck. All take advantage of Toyota’s Radical Energy Design (RED) in which the trucks are built around modular Li-ion arrays.

Mark Peters, marketing director, Toyota Material Handling Europe, explains that the modular design allows Toyota to reduce the footprints of the vehicles without compromising the ergonomics.

“With the turbulence and volatility of the energy market, especially in Europe, anything you can do to reduce costs of energy to add efficiency to operations is particularly appreciated,” he says, adding that sustainability is a strong topic of conversation with customers.

Peters stresses that Toyota is committed to a “multi-path strategy”. “We offer all solutions – lead acid, lithium ion, internal combustion. We’re always looking for ways to help our customers shift into electric, but for many, ICE is still relevant,” he says, adding that Toyota continues to explore options to extend the ICE market through the use of bio-fuels.

The KION Group was out in force at LogiMAT with its four brands combining in a cluster. CEO Rob Smith says KION is “taking our future in our own hands with our fuel cell development” as part of the group’s strong focus on energy management.

“In fact, just next week, we have a new member joining our team – our chief people and sustainability officer to enhance the exciting progress KION is making in sustainability,” he tells Forkliftaction News.

While KION’s brands showed a range of energy options, Smith is not flagging any halt to ICE production. “There’s no point in announcing a cessation (of production) when the market is asking for ICE engines. Already over 90% of our order book is electric. A growing portion of that is lithium ion and now we’re bringing fuel cell into the drive technologies.

“Having said that, there’s still a significant market in ICE and we’ll continue to serve that market. It’s a very large market and we’ll continue to supply that,” he says.

Stefan Prokosch
Stefan Prokosch

Linde used the show to promote "Green Performance", with a strong focus on electric vehicles like the X range of electric trucks designed to replace ICE models.

Stefan Prokosch, senior vice president, brand management at Linde Material Handling, highlights Linde’s fuel cell solution which has been developed in-house, starting with a 48 v unit, with a 90 v unit due next.

“We currently have 21 vehicles in our work fleet in Aschaffenburg, so we can show customers that it really works,” he says.

Stablemate Still showed off an expanded range, adding a new entry-level Classic Line and moving much of the existing RX product into the Xcellence Line.

"Not everything that is technologically possible is individually the best solution," explains Frank Müller, senior vice president Still brand management. "Sometimes, it is the comparatively simple truck, available in pre-configured equipment versions, safe and of high quality, that is the smartest solution for a customer's individual challenges and processes."

Meanwhile, KION’s Chinese subsidiary, Baoli, used LogiMAT to celebrate its 20th anniversary, with EMEA managing director Christian Bischof anticipating strong performance in his market sector, which is growing much faster than the rest of the market. “In our products, we combine European quality and technical experience with Chinese dynamism and cost-efficient production sites. This results in very competitive products that can stand up to any comparison worldwide in the entry-level industrial truck segment."

LogiMAT gave Europeans the first chance to see Doosan materials handling equipment in its new Bobcat branding.

Visitors were able to see a prototype B18NT three-wheel lithium ion electric forklift, set to be offered as an economy model to compete with a growing demand in the market for lithium-powered electric forklifts.

Jan Droogendijk
Jan Droogendijk

Doosan also showed its new B100NS forklift, part of two new ranges of high-capacity electric counterbalance forklift trucks recently launched by the company. Doosan Bobcat marketing team leader Jan Droogendijk says the models reflect the move to electric for heavier applications, and the new products from 6 - 10 T provide industrial users with a wide choice of zero-emission, low-noise level, environmentally friendly trucks, capable of tackling heavy-duty tasks. 

For many users, lead acid makes perfect sense, Droogendijk explains. “We offer lithium ion, and recognise growing demand, but lead acid is still there and, of course, there will be more energy sources,” he says. One of those is hydrogen fuel cells, represented by the B30X-7 Plus forklift concept which was also on show. 

Hubtex showed its FluX 3 T three-wheel electrical multidirectional counterbalance truck designed to handle anything from pallets to long loads. Also on show was the new NexX reach truck designed for use in builders merchants, the steel and wood trade, as well as door and window manufacturers or mechanical engineering companies, where storage space is often limited, the aisles are getting narrower and the racks are getting higher. 

General manager Hans-Joachim Finger points out that while the trucks on display look “standard”, every single truck is different and built to customer specifications.

He notes that electric trucks constitute 98% of Hubtex production – predominantly lead acid, but with increasing interest in lithium ion.

“Lithium is growing and we are now seeing around 20%, but the cost is still high and it really depends on the usage,” he says, adding extra expense requires intensive use, like three-shift operations.

Fabio Berniri
Fabio Berniri

Italian sideloader specialist Baumann showed off some of its biggest machines at LogiMAT, including an 8 T-capacity loader which is enjoying success at steel mills, where it is easily able to cope with harsh conditions.

Sales manager Fabio Bernieri says the company is exploring options for large-capacity electric vehicles as the market continues to move away from ICE.

The challenge, he says, is not finding electric motors capable of 10 – 12 T, but being able to control the power. “But we are working on it,” he says.

Baumann also showed its new line of mid-range trucks (5 – 8 T) equipped with lithium batteries. This range is particularly suited to opportunity charging and the extended life of the battery. “The price is still high, but the life of the battery is also more,” he notes, adding that the short charge times of the batteries are most valuable in many applications.

Baumann also showed the latest version of its popular compact 5 T electric truck widely used in the timber sector.

Italy’s Mariotti used LogiMAT to show off its new partnership with technology company Kiwitron which makes safety devices.

Director Francesco Bruno says dealers were increasingly being asked for safety enhancements for Mariotti’s forklifts and, rather than encourage the addition of aftermarket solutions, the company has opted to offer safety and anti-collision systems as part of the production process.

“We can provide the complete solution to our dealers,” he says.

Additional enhancements include the provision of an integrated lithium ion battery, supported by appropriate battery management technology.

Bruno says Mariotti is happy to continue in its niche of small forklifts, and he sees the MIP stand-up series introduced at the last LogiMAT as a logical extension which allows the company to access a new category of customer.

“We are not interested in doubling our sales. We are happy to grow step by step and consolidate our position,” he says. However, Mariotti is very interested in export growth, hence the presence of Peter Hinrichs, sales director of Mariotti USA at the booth.

Korea’s Clark did not exhibit at LogiMAT, but is planning to return next year, when it will unveil new products.

Stefan Budweit, director sales and marketing for Clark Europe, notes that sales of ICE trucks are falling in Europe as the market moves to electric. 

On the issue of which battery technology will prevail, Budweit says: “We are still living in a lead acid market and the technology will continue for some time.

“Lithium ion is growing, but it is more expensive and it requires quick charging. And this means you have to change your charging processes in your operations – and a lot of companies just can’t do that,” he notes.

Despite the technological innovations which have seen forklifts replaced by shuttle systems and AGVs, shows like LogiMAT reinforce the significance of these “traditional” machines. As KION’s Smith puts it, “There will continue to be a very strong and growing market for forklifts. We’ll see more AGVs, AMRs and further automation capabilities … but different applications require different technologies.”

  • Check out our LogiMAT gallery here and be sure to check back next week for our coverage of the automation theme at the show.
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