New Bremen, OH: Crown Equipment Corporation released results of its proprietary Forklift User Survey. The survey, which was conducted in late summer, represents feedback from approximately 600 forklift users involved in the purchase of lifts trucks in the material handling industry on issues ranging from fleet size to technology use.
The survey revealed that amid the challenging times of the past three years, a slight majority (51 percent) of respondents increased the size of their fleet while fewer than 10 percent reduced their fleet during this period. When looking to the future, 47 percent expect fleet size to grow during the next three years while 50 percent anticipate their fleet will stay the same size. Less than five percent expect their fleets to get smaller.
Sustainability and energy efficiency emerged as important topics when making forklift decisions. Specifically, 83 percent of respondents indicated that environmental sustainability is important when making lift truck purchasing decisions and 95 percent indicated that energy efficiency is important when making decisions.
"Our customers are interested in new and innovative ways to minimize waste, manage energy and maximize productivity," says Matt Logan, director of global marketing, Crown Equipment. "These three principles are embedded in our product development, engineering and design, manufacturing, and operational processes so that we can deliver the sustainability and efficiency the market is demanding."
Respondents also showed a strong interest in emerging technologies such as fuel cells and fleet management. More than one-third (35 percent) believe that fuel cells will be important to material handling in the next five years while 37 percent are using some form of fleet management software; although 65 percent of those who use some form of fleet management software are using spreadsheets as a management tool.
"Spreadsheets can be very useful in managing and analyzing fleet costs, but they can't provide the real-time visibility required to optimize productivity," says Jim Gaskell, director of global Insite products, Crown Equipment. "We believe fleet management systems used on truck-mounted devices that provide real-time visibility into truck and operator location, energy usage, impacts and other variables represents one of the best opportunities material handling managers have to increase productivity. We expect to see increased adoption of these systems in coming years."