Material Handling Equipment Industry Report In 2021

The global material handling equipment industry is valued at 26.3 billion USD. And over the course of 7 years, things don’t seem to be slowing down. It’s expected to see an annual growth rate of 7.4%.

But what material handling equipment is being produced? And what are the top trends we can see taking the market by storm over the next few years?

Well, keep reading;

we’re going to give you a detailed rundown:

What Are The Different Types Of Material Handling Equipment

Material handling equipment can range from the most straightforward shelf to complex warehouse automation that can operate in the dark (by in the dark, we mean without humans).

It can be pretty challenging to remember all the different types of material handling equipment; there are just so many of them.


When it comes down to it; you can split material handling equipment into four main categories:

  • Storage and handling equipment
  • Bulk material handling
  • Industrial trucks
  • Engineered systems

Splitting it down into categories makes life a lot easier, but let’s take a more in-depth look at the four-category types to see which equipment falls into each category:

Storage and Handling Equipment

The majority of the time, storage and handling equipment aren’t automated, which means you have to use manual power to get things moving.

The equipment is used to hold products and materials while they’re not being used or waiting to enter or leave the production process.

The duration these products/materials are stored depends greatly on the manufacturing process.

Most of the items that fall in this category refer to:

  • Shelves
  • Racking
  • Pallets
  • Stacking

The products will be stored in an organized and convenient manner while waiting to get shipped out or enter the production process.

Using storage and handling equipment helps to add extra efficiency to the companies production.

This type of handling helps control your warehouse space, meaning you can store more items without worrying about restocking.

Here’s some of the storage and handling equipment you’ll see being used:

  • Shelving
  • Pallet Racks
  • Stacking Frames
  • Sliding Racks
  • Drive-In Racks
  • Push-Back Racks  

As you can see, there isn’t anything too special about these pieces of equipment, but they do help you organize the products in the most efficient way possible.

Bulk Material Handling

Bulk handling equipment refers to the storage, control, and transportation of bulk or loose materials. To name a few examples:

  • Liquids
  • Metal items
  • Food
  • Furniture
  • Machine
  • And much more

The machinery will generally move these items while they are loose. A good example is conveyor belts, which help move single items to a place where they can get ready to be packed.  

Here are some examples of bulk material handling equipment:

  • Hoppers
  • Rotary Car Dumber
  • Stackers And Reclaimers
  • Conveyor Belts
  • Bucket Elevators
  • Grain Elevators

Industrial Trucks

The term is pretty broad and can be applied to many different types of equipment. But the one thing they all have in common is they all provide transportation.

These can include both hand-operated devices or large-scale motorized vehicles. Many industrial trucks have valuable characteristics, such as folks or a flat surface to be inserted under pallets or other storage options.

The great thing about the trucks is they can lift heavy materials without damaging the employee’s back. Some can be driven in a cab, while others are power-assisted when pushed.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Engineered Systems

Engineered systems are usually fully automated systems created from a variety of devices. When you combine the multiple devices, they work together to provide storage and transportation.

An excellent example of this system is an AR/RS (Automated Storage And Retrieval System). The primarily automated device comes with racks, shelves, and aisles. A cherry picker-like piece of equipment accesses the storage and retrieves it for delivery.

The system can be operated manually, or you can computerize the entire system.

The advanced system can be integrated with an existing computer and helps to keep track of the stock and much more.

Let’s take a look at a few other engineered systems:

  • Conveyor Systems
  • Automated Guide Vehicles
  • Robotic Delivery Systems  

Material Handling Trends

The past few years have been pretty crazy due to Covid… I’m sure you can all agree. And there’s no doubt this has affected the material handling industry.

Even through all this craziness, you can still see some material handling trends that will be used throughout the rest of the year and into 2022.

There have been trends that have helped shape this industry and make it what it is, and today I want to share with you what I found.

Let’s take a look:

End-To-End Transparency With Blockchain

Before Blockchain, there were tremendous risks that came with sharing data in supply chains. You could quickly become a victim of:

  1. Theft
  2. Documentation fraud
  3. And delivery of goods

Luckily with the introduction of Blockchain, things are about to get interesting. Companies have started to introduce Blockchain to help improve the transparency across the chain without the fear of having data stolen.

Because of the lack of security risk, it has become favored over cloud solutions. Blockchain is incorruptible by nature, making it hard for hackers/thieves to steal or edit your data.

We predict that Blockchain will be widely accepted over the next year and give a better end-to-end supply.

Using The Internet Of Things For Tracking And Management

Monitoring and planning operations have always been a struggle in the material handling business. But with IoT, things have started to become a lot easier. The Internet of Things ensures you can control data without the need for human input.

In other words, IoT helps to improve efficiency, react to issues with accurate data, and remove human error from the equation.

We feel that the rollout of 5G IoT will play a massive part in tracking and monitoring vital metrics.

5G Will Improve Visibility

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’re probably aware of the worldwide rollout of 5G. The rollout should hit the logistics industry by storm; you’ll have immediate and constant end-to-end tracking.

We see the 5G rollout creating a more connected logistics industry by speeding up connectivity.

More Pressure For Proven Sustainability

With more pressure than ever on companies to think more about sustainability and the climate crisis in full swing, we can see it impacting the logistics industry.

It’s hard to keep costs down in material handling while sticking to your standard procedures.

But, over the past few years, material handling companies are trying to place more value on sustainability to appease lawmakers and consumers.

We expect that more material handling companies will start to evaluate their processes over the next year in the hope of reducing their environmental impacts.

Considerable Changes In The WorkForce

AI has been slipping into businesses for a long time, and with Covid, the material handling business has furthered their interest in AI even more.

With the advances in technology and automation, you’ll see massive changes. There will less need for physical labor, which will shift the dynamic of the workforce.

E-Commerce Is Here To Stay

With more people than ever ordering online, there will be a continued strain on manufacturing and distribution. During Covid, things only got worse. More and more online companies have started to pick up traction.

This has led to a growing demand for fast delivery at an inexpensive rate.

Many supply chains had to learn to adjust to keep up with the high demand for products quickly.

What we’ve noticed over this time is the ability of supply chains to adjust to demand.

But for companies to continue past the pandemic, they will have to advance how they control data and track shipments.

The Best Material Handling Equipment Manufacturers

With the surge we saw in 2020, material handling equipment manufactures have been running at full tilt. The suppliers that could fabricate the required equipment with the approved budgets continue to dominate the top 10.

But with the 16.5% rise in 2017, and increased revenues of 12% in 2018, there’s plenty of room for the little guys in the industry. To further this point, it’s predicted that we’ll see an increase of 7% annually over the next seven years.

With that being said, let’s take a look at how the top 5 performed during 2017 ann 2018:

2017 Rank 2018 RankCompany Name2017 Revenue(Million USD)2018 Revenue(Million USD)Percent changeHeadquarters
11Daifuku Co., Ltd.3659416713.9%Osaka, Japan
22Schaefer Holding International GmbH306032175.1%Neunkirchen, Germany
33Dematic226723503.7%Atlanta, Ga
64Honeywell Intelligrated1000170070%Mason, Ohio
45Vanderlande Industries B.V.153815380%Veghel, Netherlands

As you can see, Daifuku has pulled well ahead of the crowd, raising their business by 13.9% over the 2017-2018 period.

But one of the most significant increases was seen by Honeywell Intelligrated, which saw a whopping 70% increase in the same period.

Final thoughts  

By looking at it, the top 10 performers will always be on top, there might be some changes between them, but the infrastructure they have will keep them in the top spots.

But, by keeping up to date with the latest trends and equipment, there will always be space for the little guy coming through.

Leave a Comment