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December 2017
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Crown Equipment survey shows strong interest in material handling technology

Crown Equipment Corporation released results of a proprietary survey of material handling end users and their perception of emerging technologies. The survey, which was conducted in August, represents feedback from 556 individuals involved in the purchase of material handling equipment for their company. Not surprisingly, nearly three out of every four respondents (71 percent) named driving down costs as the biggest material handling challenge facing their organization. In an effort to address this challenge, the industry is looking to new technologies. Eighty-eight percent of respondents made it clear that the material handling industry will become more reliant on technology within the next five years. When it comes to the specific types of technologies likely to be accepted, respondents showed their vast differences. Forklift fleet management solutions were ranked the highest (40.4 percent) with automated storage and retrieval systems a distant second (32.5 percent). Specific to the pace of acceptance of forklift fleet management, seven percent of respondents are actively evaluating solutions while an additional 22 percent of respondents is interested in fleet management but does not have immediate plans for implementation. Tim Quellhorst, senior vice president, Crown Equipment, explains that previous barriers to entry into forklift fleet and operator management are gradually coming down. “One of the most common misperceptions about the technology was that it was an all or nothing proposition. It’s not. End users are discovering that they can start using certain aspects of forklift fleet and operator management solutions to lower costs and increase productivity. As they get more comfortable, they’re coming to us ready for additional features to be implemented.” Respondents also revealed that adoption of technologies that automate forklift-related material handling tasks is limited to a small portion of the industry. Twenty-six percent of respondents indicated interest in the topic but did not have immediate plans to implement a solution. Fifty-four percent of respondents either had no interest in the technology or were not familiar with it. Quellhorst noted, “There is a lot we can learn about the pace of adoption of automation-related products from how the industry is incorporating forklift fleet and operator management technologies. In order for automation to realize its full potential, material handling companies are going to need to work closely with early adopters to understand where the technology is successful and its shortcomings. And, it will be critical to present customers with an implementation roadmap that does not constrain them from adjusting to unforeseen business changes.”