As major trade exhibitions continue to highlight the materials handling industry’s accelerating pace of change, it is important that companies avoid being left behind. Hans Seijger, Vice President Marketing and Sales for Cat® Lift Trucks in the EAME region, offers advice on how to keep up with the trends.
“The overall shift in the market from IC engine toward electric powered forklifts, and from counterbalance toward warehouse trucks, reflects changing business needs.” says Hans Seijger.
“Buyers should be warned that suppliers’ understanding of the challenges they face is highly variable,” he continues. “Our own approach is to work closely with end users both in developing products and in specifying them to suit particular applications and markets.”
Cat Lift Trucks ‘flagships’ for a range designed to meet existing and future demands include the N2 generation of low-level order pickers, reach trucks and multi-way reach trucks, as well as the EP25-35(C)N 80V electric counterbalance forklift trucks.
“Increasing demand from businesses and regulators for better energy efficiency is one of the trends shaping these products,” Mr Seijger adds. “Our new Cat® NO-N2 low-level order pickers, for example, are the most efficient in the market.”
He notes that technology has been a big driver of change, with outcomes including an increasing requirement for automated guided vehicles (AGVs). “With a well-established and cutting-edge AGV design and manufacturing facility within our ‘family’, we at Cat Lift Trucks are ideally placed to incorporate this technology within our solutions.”
But while technological advances hold much interest, the Vice President finds that what today’s customers are looking for in a lift truck is a satisfying, holistic experience. “We and our partners have been pioneers in the science of ‘user experience’, which has led to features like the Responsive Drive System (RDS).” This can be found on all the products mentioned above.
Globalisation and intensifying economic pressure are key trends which are driving buyers to look for much more from dealers than just the supply of forklift trucks. Cat Lift Trucks advises that the best deal is a complete package from a one-stop logistics and systems provider with a global network.
“Not every lift truck manufacturing and distribution organisation can offer that,” Hans Seijger emphasises. “Through our dealers and central support services, we can offer comprehensive solutions that cover leasing and rental, servicing and parts, fleet management, specialised technical and sales training, and a variety of complementary products.”
To meet the needs of companies trading internationally, Cat Lift Trucks and its parent company have been extending activity and investment in areas where their presence was previously limited. Their strong geographical footprint, together with co-ordination by the International Key Accounts (IKA) department, helps to simplify cross-border operations.
One final trend which Cat Lift Trucks will be encouraging businesses to harness to their advantage is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The company is already using an IIoT-based remote monitoring system, named “ViSR”, for fleet management.
“ViSR tells the manager where the truck is, who is driving it and how long it has been operating, as well as simplifying equipment checks and reporting on shocks,” Mr Seijger explains. “We believe this kind of connectivity will have a major part to play in the future of materials handling, logistics and much more.”