Sales of automated systems are in the process of overtaking those of forklift trucks
Until very recently, the forklift market exceeded that of automated systems in France and Europe. In 2017, these two markets were of similar size, amounting to approximately €1.5 billion.
This year, industrial forklifts should be lower. According to Cisma, the main reason behind this is the desire of companies to automate, prompting manufacturers to develop their range. Those who previously only worked in conventional forklifts started to branch out into robotisation, while static shelving is become dynamic. Companies are now in demand of “solutions” instead of just handling equipment, and manufacturers are accordingly required to demonstrate versatility, which they achieve either by acquiring other firms or by collaborating with others with complimentary skills.
The handling sector is therefore very dynamic, with output revenue in 2017 amounting to more than €4.5 billion in France.
Companies in the handling sector are confident
The latest Economic Sentiment Indicator (ISE*), published in February 2018 by Cisma, stands at 32.3%, a confidence level which was attained for the last time in 2007. This record can be explained by a promising economic environment and an increase in productive investment spending, with requirements for handling equipment which consequently remain high.
The order book of this sector comfortably exceeds its long-term average and is continuing to grow. In January 2018, more than 20 weeks of business were logged in the sector’s Cisma member companies. And there is another factor pointing to healthy activity levels in the coming months: the rate of use of production capacity relating to lifting and handling equipment amounts to 87%, indicating that companies may need additional equipment to support their activity in the near future.
The development of online shopping boosts the intralogistics range
The development of product offerings mainly stems from the development of online shopping, which continues to report two figure growth every year. In addition to the transformation of the “conventional” offering, new companies have also appeared over the past two years to fulfill these new expectations, offering modular, automated and cheaper solutions.
Equipment rental services are also developing, plausibly to support e-commerce firms who do not always have high visibility on their future activity. Between the development of the offerings of conventional manufacturers and that of new players, and with an online shopping sector experiencing strong and constant growth, the intralogistics sector is recording excellent results.
Data management a topic for the future for manufacturers
Another topical subject for manufacturers in the intralogistics sector is data. Indeed, they collect a lot of data, but they do not yet know how to process them, analyse them and determine who should be allowed access to them throughout the logistics chain.
Some forklift truck manufacturers already offer software to perform the precise management of fleets, allowing users to calculate and closely examine activity in the warehouse, its variations, its weaknesses, its possible improvements… But
it remains to be decided who owns these data and who is allowed to exploit them throughout the supply chain.
A number of technological and legal questions still therefore require clarification.
What future for cobots?
Collaborative robotics are starting to be talked about in France, in view of making work less arduous and preventing musculoskeletal disorders. While some people might imagine warehouses without a human presence, ultimately replaced by machines, it is more reasonable to perceive these innovations as a form of assistance to Man in his work. According to Renaud Buronfosse, “it is surprising that these solutions, cobots, exoskeletons, etc. are not more in evidence on handling tradeshows.”
The Economic Sentiment Indicator (ISE in French) is calculated by subtracting negative opinions from positive opinions, expressed as a percentage.