Crown study: Attitudes around material handling systems changing

Study finds technology a major driver of change in industry


Material handling system supplier Crown Equipment Corporation has released results of a survey of material handling end users and their perception of emerging technologies.

Crown conducted the August 2012 survey received opinions from 556 individuals involved in the purchase of material handling equipment for their company. Not surprisingly, 71% of respondents said driving down costs is the biggest material handling challenge facing their organization.

On the technology side, 85% of respondents said the material handling industry will become more reliant on technology within the next five years. The differences come in the type of fleet solutions to be utilized. Forklift fleet management solutions were the choice of 40.4% of respondents, with automated storage and retrieval systems next at 32.5%.

Tim Quellhorst, senior vice president of Crown Equipment, said 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,” he said. “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 said the adoption of technologies that automate forklift-related material handling tasks is limited to a small portion of the industry. Just 26% of respondents indicated interest in the topic but did not have immediate plans to implement a solution, while 54% either had no interest in the technology or were not familiar with it.

“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,” Quellhorst said. “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.”

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