Year in Review: Top materials handling news in 2013

Big acquisitions, an improving economy and some new players change the landscape heading into 2014.

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Intelligrated completes acquisition of software provider Knighted
At the start of 2013, Intelligrated acquired Knighted, a provider of supply chain software solutions. Headquartered in Ossining, N.Y., Knighted provides Web-enabled logistics software for today’s supply chain operations, including warehouse management software (WMS), warehouse control software (WCS) and labor management software (LMS).

Daifuku Webb Holding Company acquires Wynright Corporation
Wynright is a U.S.-based provider of intelligent materials handling systems, including conveyor and sortation systems, voice- and light-directed order fulfillment technology, a suite of warehouse controls and execution software, robotics, mezzanines and structures. Under the agreement, Wynright will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Daifuku Webb.

Entrematic acquires 4Front
Entrematic strengthened its presence in North America with its acquisition of 4Front, a U.S.-based loading dock and warehouse products company with leading brands such as Kelley and Serco. The acquisition is intended to strengthen Entrematic’s North American presence by offering a complete range of entrance automation products.

Research and surveys
Report shows U.S. 3PL revenues more than doubled in past decade
A report by Armstrong & Associates shows that 86% of domestic Fortune 500 companies use 3PLs for logistics and supply chain functions. The report suggests 3PLs continue to develop business at approximately three times the rate of growth in the U.S. economy, growing 6% in 2012 and forecast to be just more than 4% in 2013.

U.S. business leaders’ optimism reaches highest level since 2005
Optimism rose to 55% in the second quarter of 2013 from 31% in the previous quarter. This is the highest level recorded since 2005, according to the latest data from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR), a survey of 3,200 business leaders in 44 countries. Business optimism in China fell to a net balance of just 4%, down from 25% in first quarter 2013.

ITA member survey depicts growing optimism, increased demand
An April survey of members of the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) showed an estimated expected growth of 2% to 3% for 2013 over 2012 figures, with another 1% to 2% increase anticipated in 2014. ITA members estimated the 2013 market for forklifts at approximately 179,000 to 184,000 units, compared to 178,904 for 2012.

CEMA members express cautious concern over decline in first half figures
Executives representing members of the Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association (CEMA) expressed cautious concern at their Fall Meeting, following a softening of the market after consecutive record years. The updated forecast is for a 2% decrease in 2013 shipments, amended downward from the March 2013 forecast of a 5% increase.

Report: U.S. manufacturing costs are now equal to Mexico and will be equal to China by 2015
The U.S. is now equal to Mexico in “attractiveness” as a source for manufacturing operations and is on track to achieve cost parity with manufactured imports from China by 2015. According to the survey, 37% of manufacturing executives said the U.S. was ideal for nearshoring, up from 19% two years ago. The same 37% cited Mexico as the most attractive locale, down from 63% two years ago.

Pallet market set to reach 1.3 billion units in 2017
Sales of new and refurbished pallets are expected to expand by 3.5% a year through 2017 to 1.3 billion units, valued at $16.9 billion. The report also noted that block pallets are expected to take a larger share of the market as a growing number of manufacturers replace stringer pallets with new block pallets, and plastic pallets will continue to record above average growth.

Pack Expo adds east coast show
PMMI, the owner and producer of the Pack Expo trade shows, announced a new regional event: Pack Expo East, coming to Philadelphia Feb. 2-4, 2015. The decision followed a commissioned report on customer interest. PMMI expects to draw attendees from segments including food, beverage, personal care, electronics, and pharmaceutical and medical devices.

MHI forecasts growth of material handling equipment new orders of 7.0% for 2013
Materials handling equipment orders are forecasted to grow 7.0% in 2013 and 11.0% or more in 2014, according to the latest Material Handling Equipment Manufacturing Forecast (MHEM) released by MHI. Projections for both orders and shipments in 2013 and 2014 have been revised upward since May’s MHEM.

Report: Attracting and retaining talented women could be key to filling manufacturing talent gap
According to a survey, one of the best ways to address the talent gap is to improve perceptions of the industry as a female-friendly workplace. Nearly 80% of survey respondents believe manufacturers can improve their efforts to recruit women, and 51% believe the main driver on women’s under-representation is the perception of a male-favored culture.

In other news
Jock Menzies, president of ALAN, dies unexpectedly
The American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) announced that John T. “Jock” Menzies III, president of American Logistics Aid Network had died unexpectedly. Menzies will be remembered for helping to transform the logistics of disaster relief, co-founding ALAN in 2005 after witnessing the breakdown in relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Automation: MHI debuts U.S. Roadmap
MHI unveiled the first draft of the Material Handling & Logistics U.S. Roadmap, representing the efforts of a number of associations, end-users, publications, suppliers, government agencies and academia. The first draft was the result of four roundtable events where attendees contributed thoughts about the capabilities and resources that the material handling and logistics industry needs to develop between now and 2025.

ProMat 2013 registration tops 34,000
U.S. and international attendees registered in record numbers for ProMat 2013, which hosted exhibitors and visitors from 125 countries. The event covered 300,000 net square feet of exhibit space with 785 exhibiting companies. Total registration for the event was 34,085.

About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

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