Sunil K Gupta, President, KION India
Current MHE Market Scenario in India
There was a steep decline of ~50% during H1 2020 due to the lockdown and economic slowdown. However, we saw a fast paced recovery since Aug 2020, and witnessed the highest ever MHE market in March 2021 as well as in Q1 2021 due to growth in economic activities. With the ongoing vaccination drive, we are hopeful that the market will show a strong growth path. In fact, we are expecting many new market peaks in the coming months.
Opportunities & Challenges
The trend in the MHE industry is towards increasing efficiency, enhancing productivity, maximizing safety, and minimizing downtime. The e-commerce sectors saw a splurge in small local companies popping up with last-mile delivery systems. With companies working more than one shift to ensure that essential supplies reach customers, the requirement of entry level MHE, electric pallet trucks, electric stackers, and electric forklifts have shown an increase in demand.
In this Covid-19 era, it is crucial to have contactless MHE, which are flexible, have longer operational hours, need minimum maintenance, and can be installed easily at the sites. Also, the pandemic raised a labour availability concern, with the result that customers are now demanding material handling equipment. This has led to a growth in the MHE industry. Also, the government has introduced several solutions including financial aid as part of the Covid-19 relief package to boost Capex investment in infrastructure. This has boosted the MHE industry as well.
We also anticipate a surge in automation of material handling equipment to keep workers safe and make it easier for warehouses and factories to support more efficient and contact-less operations.
Technological Advancements: From Diesel to Electric Forklifts
Environmental awareness and the Government’s push towards clean and green energy is driving demand for cleaner and greener technology products.With focus on environment and sustainability, electric equipment are being more widely accepted.
Most Indian consumers still rely on the robust and cost - effective diesel equipment; however, the electric MHE equipment market is gaining momentum as electric forklifts are being continuously improved in regards to their performance, safety and lifespan. In fact, the shift in demand of electric equipment is being seen across sectors.
The ‘smart’ warehouses of the future are likely to be based on non-pollutant, energy- efficient material handling equipment. Battery-operated electric forklifts and pallet trucks are the products which would be a part of the smart warehouses.
Usage of Heavy Duty Forklifts
The market is shifting from use of manual equipment to palletization; and as the market matures further, there will be an increase in demand for higher tonnage equipment as well.
Heavy capacity forklifts account for 10-15% of total forklift volume. However, with the logistics sector’s efficiency improving, demand of higher capacity forklifts will show an increase and the market is likely to sustain a double-digit growth in the next few years. The increase in import and export activities will also add higher capacity forklifts in the coming years; and growth in this segment could be ~20-25%.
Offering Value For Money
With the presence of many national and international brands in India, the MHE market is now more competitive than ever. The customer is looking for products that give value for money.
KION India has a range of solutions with its multi-brand offerings of brands like OM, Linde, Baoli and Dematic. OM is an indigenous brand and offers products suited to Indian working conditions, while Linde and Dematic are internationally renowned brands that provide high-end technological solutions.
We have India’s largest production facility at Pune, equipped with international standard production shop floor, paint shop, R&D centre, and an advanced Quality & Testing facility; so we are well prepared to cater to the long-term projected market growth.
We have in-house production of IC forklifts ranging from 1.5T to 16T, electric forklifts from 1.5T to 5 T, stackers with mast heights up to 6.5 m, battery-operated pallet trucks, tow trucks, and reach trucks with mast heights up to 11.5m. All the products are manufactured under ‘Make in India’ initiative. We also have complete automation solutions for big warehouses to support automation.
Our Linde technology offers a complete logistics solution interfaced with customers’ own logistics management software, ensuring real-time supervision. Dematic is a worldwide trusted solution provider to design, build, implement, and support automated system solutions for large scale warehouses and distribution centres.
KION India’s Customized Solutions
As an industry leader, we always set new benchmarks for the MHE industry by launching the latest solutions based on the evolving requirements of our customers.
We specialise in offering customized solutions such as pallet size, capacities, height requirement, feature options etc, as per the required applications. In fact, we offer solutions to the customer rather than just products and we have a wide range of products for all requirements across varied industry segments.
Aligned with the latest trend of customer requirement in India, we have introduced our Plus+++ series of forklifts, which includes the 2Ton & 3Ton diesel forklift with automatic and fluid coupling transmission option and a 2Ton & 3Ton electric forklift loaded with features to enhance performance, safety and lifespan of the equipment.
KION India follows all the safety norms as well as environmental regulations. We are continuously working towards upgrading our products in terms of their features, and bringing out future-ready products, which are designed by our in-house R&D team and are a result of continuous innovation.
Our latest launch Plus +++ series of forklifts ensure better productivity and meet a wide range of material handling requirements, while giving superior performance, serviceability, robustness, safety, and long life. The series has advanced safety features like rear proximity sensors, operator presence system, and reverse handle integrated with horn.
Rental Market for MHE in India
For customers with low capital availability and looking for the best RoI, the rental market is a good choice. In fact, the rental MHE market is growing at a faster pace and showing double digit CAGR.
KION India is present in this space with its global brand Linde. We offer corporate customers our brand new equipment on rental contracts of 3-5 years. We have tie-ups with many financial institutes to offer attractive financial schemes to our customers.
Growth Plans & Strategies
We had invested in our new factory 2.0 in the year 2019; it is the largest MHE factory in India, and is well equipped to handle future demand. We have products to cater to customers from all segments. We are continuously investing to improve our product features and bringing new technologies. We have 100+ customer touchpoints, which we are strengthening further.
The Indian market is developing and moving towards Industry 4.0; so automation has to be adopted in the coming years. We are serving our tech-savvy customers looking for high-tech solutions for their MHE requirements through our premium products under the Linde and Dematic brands. We will also be ramping up our automation technology in India. Our aim is to become the preferred material handling solutions provider in India.