First developed in the early 20th century by companies such as Clark and Yale & Towne Manufacturing, forklifts are powered industrial trucks used to lift and move materials across short distances. The two power-operated prongs at the front of the vehicle can slide under heavy loads and then be raised for stacking as well as moving objects in shipping depots, warehouses, etc. As per Inkwood Research, the global forklift truck market is set to grow with a CAGR of 6.60% over the forecast years of 2023 to 2032. The market is set to capture a revenue share of $130.75 billion, reaching a volume of 2546.21 thousand units by 2032.
How Automation is Restructuring the Production Space
The automation of manufacturing facilities has been a game-changer in the avenue of logistics and supply chain management.
Accordingly, some of the key advantages of automation in manufacturing facilities include –
- More efficient use of materials
- Higher production rates and increased productivity
- Improved safety and reduced costs
- Reduced factory lead times
- Shorter workweeks for labor
- Better product quality
With increased automation in warehouses and factories, the demand for efficient and smart material handling solutions has surged. Forklift trucks have proven to be the optimal solution in this automated landscape, facilitating seamless movement of goods, optimizing processes, and ensuring safety.
Technology improvements in automated forklift trucks have also made them significant assets in material handling, especially in large facilities where human workers may be expected to walk longer distances for hauling, picking, and putaway functions. Given the prevalence of automation in manufacturing, the demand for forklifts is on the rise across end-users, especially due to the continual innovative technical improvements in conventional automation systems.
Automation Meets Manufacturing Efficacy | The Indispensable Role of Forklift Trucks
The demand for automation, particularly in the form of smart and autonomous forklifts, in the manufacturing industry is influenced by several key factors. These include the need for increased operational efficiency, coupled with the ability to handle complex and heavy loads. Accordingly, advancements in forklift technology and the subsequent rise in production capacities have resulted in the following developments –
- Diverse End-User Applications – Forklifts play a pivotal role in various manufacturing industries such as retail & e-commerce, construction, mining, and manufacturing. Warehouses heavily rely on these versatile vehicles for the efficient lifting and transportation of cargo. On that note, here are the diverse end-user applications of automated forklifts –
- As the e-commerce sector experiences significant growth, warehouses are adapting to accommodate smaller aisles and taller shelves in order to optimize inventory visibility and facilitate faster delivery. This shift has led to an increased demand for compact and efficient forklifts specifically tailored to meet the requirements of the e-commerce industry. Moreover, retail & e-commerce is set to be the fastest-growing and dominating end-user during the forecast period.
- The mining sector utilizes heavy-duty, high-capacity lift trucks to handle the demanding nature of their operations. Likewise, the logistics sector entails production, labor, equipment, and regulatory costs, which further impact the core of the mining and warehouse industries.
- Forklifts are essential equipment in the construction sector for the transportation of heavy building materials across challenging terrains. Forklifts also serve a dual purpose in construction operations, acting as both lifting equipment and vehicles. Their versatility is demonstrated in operations such as unloading pallets of blocks, bricks, steel joists, and construction equipment and materials.
- Prominence of ICE Powered Forklifts – While the demand for lift trucks equipped with diesel and LPG engines remains stable, internal combustion (IC) engines continue to be favored for their suitability in high-throughput applications, outdoor tasks, and environments that require multiple shifts.Particularly well-suited for outdoor use, ICE powered forklift trucks find extensive application in industries such as iron, steel, automobile manufacturing, and shipbuilding. As these manufacturing sectors are anticipated to experience growth, the adoption and expansion of the ICE powered forklifts are expected to rise, as a result. Furthermore, as per Inkwood Research’s analysis, the ICE powered segment, under the engine type category, is set to record the highest revenue share of around 53.83% by 2032.
- High Adoption in Food & Beverage and Pharmaceuticals – In the manufacturing industry, which encompasses sectors such as food & beverage and pharmaceuticals, electric forklifts play a pivotal role. In the pharmaceutical sector, electric lift trucks enable operators to handle products efficiently and with precision. Similarly, in the food & beverage industry, forklift trucks are used to lift and transport food packets to designated locations.Forklift trucks are available in various lift capacities and power types, allowing them to carry different weights of food packets and parcels while ensuring proper organization within the facility. Moreover, the advanced ergonomics and minimal emissions of forklift trucks make them particularly suitable for applications in the food industry. As the demand for packaged food and products continues to grow, driving manufacturing and sales, the deployment of forklift trucks in warehouses is expected to increase, further bolstering automation in the manufacturing industry.
- Asia-Pacific’s Strong Foothold – Countries across Asia-Pacific, including China, Japan, India etc., are highly engaged in manufacturing and construction activities. These projects, in turn, generate significant demand for the use of forklift trucks for handling goods in the region. Inkwood Research estimates that the Asia-Pacific forklift truck market is projected to grow with the highest CAGR of 6.83%, with China capturing a dominant revenue share of 31% by 2032.
- China has emerged as a prominent global manufacturing hub, driven by several key factors. These include easy access to resources, a large and cost-effective workforce, and favorable government policies.
- The nation’s manufacturing sector is poised for growth with the introduction of government initiatives aimed at promoting new projects in areas such as manufacturing, packaging, and public health. These measures are expected to provide a significant boost to China’s construction operations and the demand for forklifts, further solidifying its position as a thriving manufacturing powerhouse in the global forklift truck market.
Automation is revolutionizing the future of material handling operations, offering a multitude of advantages. From significant cost savings to seamless integration with existing operations, automating fleets of forklifts can add substantial value to manufacturing operations. Moreover, with the notable presence of leading companies such as Toyota Industries Corporation, KION AG, Hyster-Yale Materials Handling Inc and others, the global forklift truck market is set to witness lucrative growth prospects during the forecast period.
What is the difference between forklifts and trucks?
While trucks are better suited for lifting lighter materials to increased elevations, forklifts are optimal for moving heavier objects at lower heights.
What are the main types of forklift engines?
Forklift engines can be separated into two main categories, namely, electric engines and internal combustion (IC) engines. According to our experts, electric powered is expected to be the fastest-growing engine type during the forecast period.