‘Call that difficult? It’s blooming mother’s milk!’ You can imagine a hardboiled army instructor yelling at the recruits struggling round the assault course. But you won’t find Britain’s hardened warehouse and logistics professionals wimpering when the going gets tough.

A gritty lot, the ‘W&L’ industry thrives on a challenge. They’ve certainly done so in the last twelve months, as you’ll see from the stories and the comments in our Review of The Year, which includes a look back at IMHX 2010.

2010 has been hard going – physically, as in the snows that began it and are now ending it, and economically, with the continuing national and international economic conditions. But there’s a consensus that things are looking up.

The FLTA’s David Ellison, for one, reckons it could all have been much worse: “Many of our members are broad based and not dependent on new truck sales. As end users reduce their budgets and delay buying new equipment, the need for service, repair and refurbishment increases. With a careful eye on their costs most FLTA members have been able to survive and provide their customers with the same high quality of service as before.”

BITA’s James Clark is more restrained: “2010 was eventually a year for optimism and encouragement in the forklift industry, as predictions of steady growth were endorsed with increased orders for new forklift trucks. From 2009’s depths of despair with orders at their lowest for nearly 30 years, 2010 has been a step in the right direction, albeit a modest one. 2011 is set to continue in the same vein, so we look forward to developments with guarded optimism.”

2010 marked the 25-year milestone in the life of the Automated Material Handling Systems Association, which is dedicated to proactive promotion of safe, reliable and economic material handling systems for users’ and specifiers’ benefit.

While 2010’s first few months proved poor for members, AMHSA’s Graham Watts says the situation has improved recently and there are positive signs for the next six months with some members actively recruiting.

For another reading of the industry temperature, look no further than the feedback from IMHX 2010, which we report on in these pages. Held every three years, November’s incarnation of the industry’s biggest UK exhibition showed, in the organisers’ words, “a buoyant and business-like spirit that reflects the improved economic climate.” Certainly W&LN found the show very rewarding as exhibitors, and we trust everyone else at the show did the same.

Happy reading, and here’s to 2011.

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