A bright future

With new technologies and evolving consumer behaviours driving rapid change, there will be many opportunities for the lift truck market to thrive over the next few years, says Tim Waples, Chief Executive of the Fork Lift Truck Association.

It is perhaps more important than ever that the FLTA provides consistent services to manufacturers, dealers and operators of forklift trucks as they navigate times of change. Having recently joined the FLTA, my next steps will be to put plans in place for our organisation’s future and to highlight the role it will play in supporting UK industry.

I am confident that the FLTA will continue to be a vital source of reassurance over the next few years, as sectors such as logistics, manufacturing and warehousing adapt to the increasing demand for ever-greater efficiency. The rise of online shopping means warehouse spaces are growing, and with it the workload — including same-day deliveries — making materials handling equipment a vital part of any supply chain.

Industry pressures

But whereas business capacity is increasing, the number of forklifts on the market is not growing proportionately. This suggests that companies will need to enhance the performance of their existing equipment in order to meet ever-higher targets.

On top of this comes new environmental legislation on carbon emissions, leading to what is bound to be an intensifying shift from IC engine to electric lift trucks. At the start of the year, the Stage V European emission regulations came into effect, which places more stringent demands on fuel efficiency and consumption, aimed particularly at diesel-powered forklifts. But in order to meet these new standards, technology is having to become more sophisticated. A demand for longer shift capabilities has seen lead acid giving way to Lithium Ion battery technology with their opportunity for charging and lengthier life spans. Indeed, forklifts look set to continue their evolution — we live in interesting times!

A new generation

The way that the materials handling market is transforming means we may also see some changes to recruitment over the coming years. For a long time, the forklift sector has had an aging workforce, but the rise in automation technology within intralogistics could potentially attract new generations of tech-savvy young people. The FLTA is committed to supporting engineers, both by working with new starters or upskilling those transferring from other industries roles. Our engineer-development programmes are designed to increase efficiency, reduce downtime and contribute positively to customer productivity.

Clarity amid confusion

As we move through an uncertain future and companies strive to balance cost obligations, legislation responsibilities, recruitment challenges and HSE requirements, FLTA members are uniquely placed to offer guidance on best-practice, safety and compliance.

By working with an FLTA member, customers can be certain of up-to-date information and practical help in keeping abreast of changes to the legal and operational landscape: with expert advice and resources to support their day-to-day operations.

It’s important to note that FLTA members must abide by a strict Code of Practice that qualifies them to conduct site surveys, offer advice and specify appropriate equipment (and confirms that their operations are backed by multi-million pound insurance cover). That Code is underpinned by a Member Audit specifically designed for the lift truck industry, which involves an on-site inspection of more than 100 criteria across safety, environmental issues, procedures and best practice.

As a result, customers can be confident that they will receive quality-assured support no matter where they are in the UK. To find a local FLTA member, customers can simply go to the FLTA website at www.fork-truck.org.uk/find-members.