Sectoral conditions

The global material handling market, which comprises industrial trucks and supply chain solutions, again grew at a faster rate than the global economy in 2017. The main driving forces, besides the worldwide rise in the trade of goods, were growing demand for industrial trucks in China and the automation of warehousing and logistics combined with an increasing volume of warehouse capacity.

Industrial Trucks & Services

Measured in terms of the number of new trucks ordered, the global market for industrial trucks expanded at the exceptionally strong rate of 17.9 per cent in 2017, compared with 7.5 per cent in the previous year. Orders were up across all product categories and sales regions, reaching a total of 1.4 million trucks. IC trucks made a particularly strong gain (up by 20.8 per cent), primarily driven by significant growth of over 30 per cent in the Chinese market. The rates of increase for electric forklift trucks (up by 14.3 per cent) and warehouse trucks (up by 16.8 per cent) were also into double digits.

At 9.7 per cent, the rate of growth in western Europe was down slightly on the previous year, although this remains a fast-moving and by far the biggest market for warehouse trucks. In eastern Europe, orders were up by 21.6 per cent, which was roughly the same as the growth rate in 2016. Overall, the EMEA region (western Europe, eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa) generated growth of 11.1 per cent. The Americas region (North, Central and South America) recovered in the year under review, having been subdued in the previous year, and saw a rise of 12.3 per cent; while North America recorded generally good growth of 10.2 per cent, catch-up effects meant that Central and South America generated a disproportionately strong increase of 29.8 per cent. Brazil, the largest individual market in South America, expanded by 45.4 per cent. Boosted by the marked rise in China, Asia-Pacific as a whole (APAC region) was the fastest-growing region worldwide with an increase in orders of 28.5 per cent. The share of the overall market accounted for by this region rose from 37.5 per cent to 40.9 per cent. > TABLE 014

Global industrial truck market (order intake)




in thousand units




Source: WITS/FEM

Western Europe




Eastern Europe




Middle East and Africa




North America




Central and South America












Supply Chain Solutions

The market for supply chain solutions also sustained its growth trend in 2017 thanks again to customers reconfiguring their logistics processes and supply chains. According to a survey by the Peerless Research Group, multichannel approaches and e-commerce continued to gain ground in all kinds of industries, resulting in higher requirements regarding the speed and precision with which warehouses and distribution centres can be managed. The survey found that capital expenditure on enlarging and modernising warehouses and on the related technologies was expected to increase by around 9 per cent in 2017. There was also greater use of warehouse management systems than in 2016.

The Ecommerce Foundation’s outlook for the global e-commerce market (B2C) anticipated growth of 17 per cent in 2017. Improved internet access and increased use of social media for buying goods are contributing to this trend. Of the total market volume, around 50 per cent is attributable to the APAC region. This region includes China, which is the world’s largest individual market and also leads the way in terms of mobile e-commerce.

The Logistics and Real Estate series of studies published by bulwiengesa AG shows that demand for logistics premises in Germany remained high last year, with construction activity and capital expenditure reaching record levels. According to the study, there was 12 per cent more logistics space in 2017 than in the previous year. Demand for space rose at a similar rate in China and the United States, driven mainly by the steady increase in e-commerce.

Procurement markets

On the whole, prices for the commodities used by the KION Group rose sharply over the course of 2017. The average price of steel, the most important commodity, was far higher in the reporting year than in 2016. Copper became more expensive too. The oil price rallied significantly, also rising a long way above the average for 2016. Following a sharp price increase in the first half of the year, the amount spent on rubber in 2017 was higher than in the previous year.