Since December 2020, when the forklift industry experienced a record order month, orders have exploded month after month. The chart below shows just how strong the demand for forklifts has become.
If this trend continues, which we expect it to, orders for 2021 will be up over 60% from the previous 3 years. This increase, combined with shortages in microchips which manage so many functions on forklifts, as well as other supply-related delays due to Covid 19, have greatly elongated lead times for new equipment orders.
What may normally be a 10 week lead time for a new lift truck, has increased to 8 to 10 months, with some specialized equipment waiting over a year for delivery. This shortage of equipment has created a ripple effect into other areas of our industry, namely rentals and used equipment.
It is getting increasingly more difficult to obtain rental equipment and used equipment, as these are being used to plug the holes created by the delays in new equipment delivery. We do expect this to begin to ease as chip manufacturing begins to catch up, but it will be several months before this occurs. Chip manufacturers are simultaneously playing catch-up for automobiles, other heavy machinery as well as nearly any vehicle managed by electronic components, which is nearly all equipment!
We are suggesting to customers to plan their 2022 needs, and place those orders very soon in order to prevent delays for 2022 equipment needs. We will certainly keep all of you posted on the progress our industry makes and work hard as always to find you the equipment you need.