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    The Essential Role of the Forklift


    It is commonly accepted that Black Friday is the biggest retail day of the Christmas season. However, in recent years, Black Monday has taken off and last year came close to reaching the $2 billion mark in sales. Put in perspective, in 2012 Cyber Monday surpassed Black Friday in retail sales for the first time. This year, analysts expect the day to take in between $1.5 to $2.0 billion

    The online vendors raking in the most online sales are Walmart.com, Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com and Target.com. It is customary that retailers do not announce their deals until the actual day likely to avoid taking sales from Black Friday.  Last year’s Cyber Monday reached an all-time sales record — 30 percent higher sales results than 2011.  These statistics are not limited to the United States.  For the first time ever, Brits will spend more than US $16 billion on line in one month, most evidently on Cyber Monday.

    Forklift PricesBut this article has to do with Forklifts, not holiday sales records.  Hold on, there’s a strong relationship between holiday sales and forklifts. Last year ForkliftArticles.com published an article about the interrelationship between multiple industries and the material handling industry.  We went so far as to say that the forklift plays an essential role in driving the economy, especially now that economic growth is becoming more and more entwined with retail sales generated through the internet.  The statistics for Black Friday and Cyber Monday show how within just the past two years all sales records are being broken on these high-volume sales days.

    Think of the industries primarily affected by this phenomenon.  One that stands out is the parcel shipment and delivery industry.  There can be no question that the big three, Fed Ex, UPS, and DHL are benefitting greatly from the jump in Cyber Monday sales, as is the United States Postal Service.  But behind it all is the need for the forklift as the workhorse of the material handling aspect of e-commerce.  Imagine how many times during its lifetime, from raw material recovery to doorstep delivery an item and its components is handled by a forklift.

     Several economic analysts have pretty much isolated the forklift as the precipitator of some of the greatest technological advances in the industrial world, especially the modern phenomenon of global manufacturing and distribution of common household products being marketed via the internet.

    In an article published last year in ForkliftArticles.com we introduced “the forklift game,” where we suggest recreating the trail of a mail order product from raw material to home delivery.  Just for fun, he decided to analyze how many times that product may have had an encounter with a forklift during its lifetime from being pliable raw material to its arrival at a purchaser’s door. Whether made of wood, iron, plastic or cardboard, it may have had several such encounters with a forklift as it was recovered from its natural environment in the forest, the ground or some chemical environment until it was fully processed and delivered to the manufacturer where it would be fabricated into the final product.  During that cycle, it would have been assembled, using any combination of fasteners, such as staples, screws, glue or nails, that may have already been handled multiple times by forklifts; it would have been painted (with paint moved by forklifts) before being passed on for a variety of other modifications at the mercy of a forklift.  During the various phases of it creation into a final product, it would have been moved or stacked by a forklift.  Its packaging would have gone through its own creative, storage and delivery cycles – with forklifts involved.  Preparation for storage and shipping to a distributor involved forklifts. Whether it ends up at a retailer or on a FedEx truck, chances are forklifts were used in the process.  A recent calculation indicates that a typical child’s holiday toy or adult’s electronic gadget encountered between 15 and 21 forklifts on the way to hometown USA.

    Another way of looking at the number of forklifts being used in society today is to consider China, where the majority of consumer products are manufactured.  According to www.reportlinker.com, a ResearchInChina industry report issued in 2012 reported that China is playing an increasingly prominent role in the global forklift market. Since it became the world’s first largest forklift sales market in 2009, China has been ranking No. 1 in sales volume of forklifts which has constituted around a quarter of the global total.  The global forklift industry hit a record high in 2011 with order quantity rising 23% and sales volume rising 27% over the previous year.  The total sales volume of forklifts broke 200,000 units in 2010 and 300,000 units in 2011, reaching a historic high.

    The electric warehouse forklift emerges as the most prominent product in the mix of models. In 2012, the sales volume of electric warehouse forklifts (including electric ride-on warehouse forklift and electric walking warehouse forklift) soared by almost 80%  to a record 55,000 units. It’s safe to say the forklift sales will continue to rise for years to come.

    The Global Forklift Industry

    The average consumer is unaware of the role played by the forklift in the world economy.  The number of manufacturers of forklifts alone is an eye-opener.  There are numerous relatively small forklift companies in the world, but for our purposes in analyzing the industry, we can focus on the top twenty companies based on sales volume. An interesting exercise would be to have Ancestry.com do a family tree of the major material handling companies.  Because of mergers, buy outs, collaboration agreements, acquisitions and consolidations, a family tree of forklift companies looks like a history of arranged marriages, ugly divorces and pragmatic unions.  Just as enlightening is how companies evolved from the manufacture of a totally unrelated product line into a forklift operation.  For instance, the Yale Materials Handling Corporation began as the highly visible and successful Yale Lock Company.  More logically, Cat Forklifts are “stepchildren” of the famous Caterpillar earth moving industry leader.  The Japanese Forklift leader, Komatsu, Ltd., started as a Mining company. In some of these cases, the company gravitated to the design and development of forklifts as a practical response to the need to move and store their products.  Linde Material Handling North America began as a Wagon Repair Company dating back to 1853.  Its parent German company was founded in Hamburg by a refrigeration engineer named Dr. Carl von Linde.  Two of the major forklift companies are related directly to the auto industry, namely Toyota and Nissan.

    It is hard to discover a single “inventor” of the forklift, because the years given as the beginning of the forklift operations within a company are the same in different companies in different parts of the world, causing it to appear that spontaneous combustion was the method by which forklifts burst onto the world scene.  Also, with so many versions of early material handling equipment, it is hard to say exactly what item deserves the label: “forklift.”  The inventors of a sled-like skid handler, not actually a forklift, George Raymond and Bill House of Greene New York, take credit for the invention of the shipping pallet – an essential component of the industry.  The Clark Material Handling Company, which began as the Colfor Tool Company in Buchanan, Michigan, generally gets credit as the “inventor” of the forklift, which they called a “Tructractor” at its inception back in 1917.  The other two early contenders for the “inventor” title are the Towmotor Company in 1919 and Yale & Towne Manufacturing in 1920.  Most of the early development of forklifts took place in the United States, with Japan entering the competition in 1956 with Toyota’s first lift truck model.  Toyota sold its first lift truck in the United States in 1967.

    In and of itself, the Forklift Industry emerges as one of the unsung mainstays of our modern economy.  This becomes patently evident during the holiday season when you play the “forklift game” to determine how many forklifts the components of the product you buy through Amazon.com or any of its competitors have encountered from raw material to arrival at your front door.   Learn more about the amazing Forklift industry by visiting www.ForkliftArticles.com


    1 comment
    1. ForkliftArticles.com Staff
      December 29, 2020 12:57:pm

      Looking for a Forklift lease? https://forkliftplanet.com has low forklift lease prices and used forklifts for sale.

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