Market for automated material handling equipment to reach $45 billion by 2022

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forklift truck

By Thomas R. Cutler

Research and Markets released data suggesting that the automated material handling equipment market is expected to reach $44.68 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 7.9 percent between 2016 and 2022.

According to the analysis, market growth is propelled by increasing demand for automated solutions; the need to ensure a safe working environment; and reduction in labor cost through advanced robotics. Unit load material handling systems are estimated to hold a large share and grow at a high CAGR in the automated material handling equipment market during the forecast period.

Unit load material handling systems are widely used in various industries as they are cost effective and have many advantages such as the ability to handle several items simultaneously, thereby reducing the number of trips, time required for loading and unloading, and the cost of handling. 

The e-commerce and aviation applications are expected to witness a high growth rate between 2016 and 2022. E-commerce companies are increasingly adopting automated material handling equipment to shorten the delivery time of products to the customers and storing goods in warehouses to ensure the quick delivery of the products.

Moreover, automated material handling is gaining popularity in the aviation industry as it offers ease for manufacturing and assembling the aircraft. Automated material handling systems are used for storing parts of aircraft, picking and handling of components during assembly of aircraft, and organizing aircraft parts efficiently.

Too often the idea of automation in large manufacturing facilities starts with pre-conceived robotics imagery. Ironically the simplicity of new automation technology can be viewed at the manufacturing cellular level, rather than the entire plant floor.

A manufacturing cell is an efficient grouping of all the resources required to manufacture a product. These resources, which usually include people, supplies, machines, tools, and other production equipment, are arranged in close proximity to enhance communication and allows everyone to see what is going on at all times.

Modern Machine Shop reviewed cellular level manufacturing more than a decade ago and concluded then what is still known today, namely that cellular manufacturing is a tried and true process that has reduced product costs, while improving lead times and quality. Cells have prospered because they work, and they work in almost any type of manufacturing environment. One reason cells are successful is that they often eliminate many of the wastes inherent in a typical manufacturing operation.

Excess inventory is a result of the waste of overproduction. It is also one of the costliest of all manufacturing wastes. Manufacturing cells address the issue of inventory waste in a number of ways. First, by balancing the work and instructing operators not to exceed what the next person can handle, the work-in-process inventory is reduced. By the nature of the cell layout, excess inventory cannot be tolerated because there is no place to put it. Manufacturing cells solve the vacant space paradox, which says the amount of vacant space is inversely proportional to the amount of time it is vacant.

There is significant wasted motion in a typical manufacturing process. This often results from a poorly organized work area. By putting everything together in a manufacturing cell, wasted motion can be reduced, if not eliminated entirely. Eliminating travel to other areas to get parts is an obvious improvement, but what cannot be underestimated is the reduction of motion within an individual process. With a well-designed cellular operation, motion shifts from non-value added to value added. When emphasis is placed on conveniently locating everything that operators need to do their jobs, much wasted motion is eliminated.

One of the most common causes of waiting is an unbalanced workload. Manufacturing cells can reduce waiting by supporting more synchronized flow. With all the required resources grouped closely together, synchronized product flow is easier. Worker flexibility within the cell will also help reduce waiting time because operators can help others when they are not busy.

Transporting a part through the shop is a wasted effort. A manufacturing cell can reduce part transportation because the close proximity of the cell’s resources makes part transportation almost non-existent. As a result, material handling equipment can be reduced or eliminated altogether.

Technology innovator Magline, best known for two-wheel hand trucks used in the beverage industry, has solved the heavy lifting problem in manufacturing facilities. Magline’s LiftPlus provides an all-in-one lift, transporter, and positioner. The LiftPlus is a workforce multiplier that kicks in productivity with no need for special training or licensing. The LiftPlus was designed for ease of use, higher productivity, and to keep workers on the job and free from injuries; lifting 350 pounds easily with an all-metal frame platform and a screw-driven lift that delivers smooth precision that hydraulics or chains just cannot match.

Waiting for forklifts to move product in a manufacturing cell is eliminated. Andrea Horner, Magline’s vice president of marketing stated, “This powered product demonstrates a commitment to the manufacturing sector and those customers who requested durable, ergonomic, and quality equipment allowing safe use and transport without wasting time waiting for forklifts. The improved throughput and productivity is a direct result of time efficiencies achieved with the LiftPlus within the manufacturing cell.”

Eliminated Fork Trucks to Maximize Manufacturing Work Cells

LiftPlus Fork Truck
Investment Low High
OSHA Certification Required No Yes
License Required No Yes
Turning Diameter 6 feet 18.5 feet
Space Required Minimum Maximum
Fuel Required No Yes
Accessories/Other Applications Yes No
Fork Truck Free Yes No

To view the LiftPlus, go to:

Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc., ( Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 6000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, and process improvement. Cutler authors more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector and is the most published freelance industrial journalist worldwide. Cutler can be contacted at and can be followed on Twitter @ThomasRCutler.

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