Material Handling Business Trends

View 2024 Business Trends  View 2023 Business Trends

MHEDA’s Executive Committee developed the top 14 business trends impacting the material handling industry as we move into 2024.  We encourage you to use the Trends to discuss these topics with your leadership team and utilize MHEDA for resources to help your organization manage in the months ahead.

If you have any questions or comments about this process or what is listed below, please contact the MHEDA office.

2024 Material Handling Business Trends

1The current economic uncertainty is driven by a combination of global supply chain disruptions, inflationary pressures, and geopolitical tensions, leading to heightened market volatility and cautious consumer behavior. Members should monitor key performance indicators and proceed accordingly.

2Technology is profoundly impacting the material handling industry including artificial intelligence, digital automation, data-driven decision-making, and the integration of advanced systems that optimize efficiency, productivity, and safety. Members must have a clear understanding of emerging technologies.

3Companies need to take cybersecurity risks seriously to safeguard sensitive data, protect customer trust, maintain business continuity, and mitigate the potential financial and reputational damages resulting from cyberattacks. This issue must be prioritized and steps have to be taken to enlist both internal and external partners to protect against this threat.

4Labor shortages across all job classifications continue, resulting in ongoing wage pressure.

5Fraudulent activities are on the rise in business due to the increasing reliance on digital technologies, sophisticated cyber threats, and evolving scams, posing significant risks to organizations’ financial health and reputation.

6It is essential for leaders to be mindful of workforce challenges including worker fatigue, lack of engagement, mental health challenges and low morale. Enhancing organizational culture and offering support when needed, is critical.

7Members need to be cognizant of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) and potential customer and supplier demands for ESG compliance.

8Larger end-users are modifying their procurement processes and demanding terms, rebates and complimentary services. This impacts cash flow and poses a risk to the member organization.

9There is a correlation occurring as it relates to forklift inventory. Orders are declining, used equipment pricing and rental utilization are decreasing and there are increased requirements to order new equipment. This is placing pressure on the forklift distributor and cash flow.

10With succession planning and consolidation continuing, the business valuation model will fluctuate along with changing economic conditions.

11Requirements continue to increase for permitting, contracts, contractor licensing and safety. Members must have a clear understanding of these requirements and recognize both the risks and opportunities.

12Due to shifts in buying dynamics, distributors and manufacturers must recognize the opportunities and be collaborative as it relates to e-commerce and on-line purchasing.

13As the trend toward electrification continues, members should explore diversification options to protect aftermarket profitability.

14To capitalize on the demand for automation, the member must understand the engineering complexities and the in-house or outsourced expertise required. Servicing of these operations is becoming increasingly important and an opportunity for members.

2023 Material Handling Business Trends

1Record inflation is impacting members in numerous ways including fluctuations in pricing, rising operating expenses, wage pressure and higher interest rates. A potential economic correction is anticipated.

2Members are competing for talent across industries and must be aware of current compensation levels, benefits and flexible working opportunities in order to address recruitment and retention challenges.

3Customer demands for automation continue to increase. Members need to be well prepared to embrace these automation and related service opportunities.

4Members should be steadfast in their commitment to creating and maintaining a healthy workplace culture especially given today’s remote and hybrid work environment.

5E-commerce and online purchasing continue to accelerate. Members should be forward thinking as to how their organization will evolve and provide value-added services to the end user.

6Members should understand and be educated on the depth and breadth of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

7The use and integration of data both internal and external, i.e. business systems, WMS and telematics, is critically important to strengthen the member organization and satisfy customer demands.

8Some employees are experiencing worker fatigue, mental health issues and low morale due to current pressures in and out of the workplace. Leaders must be cognizant of this and provide support when and where needed.

9Supply chain challenges are driving extended lead times and could result in order cancellations. Members may need to creatively diversify their customer offerings.

10There are increasing requirements for permitting, contracts, contractor licensing and safety. Members must have a clear understanding of these requirements and recognize both the risks and opportunities.

11Members must be vigilant in protecting against cyber security attacks, regularly analyze exposure and train employees to be attentive of risks. There can be added exposure exacerbated by a remote work environment.

12Business valuation and succession planning has taken on more importance as owners consider retirement and consolidation continues.

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