Any year that combines IMHX with the uncertainty of Brexit was bound to be a busy one for the material handling industry – and so it proved in 2019.

Simon Barkworth
President at BITA

The stuttering economic climate was an unwelcome distraction for much of the year and threatened to overshadow IMHX. However, forklift manufacturers and suppliers were keen to focus on the positive, which helped to make not just the exhibition but the year in general, a big success.

] Their optimism was justified by the latest sales data, which suggested the UK industry continues to see growth despite the political uncertainty. The British Industrial Truck Association (BITA) is the sole provider of industrial truck sales statistics in the UK, contributed by – and only made available to – BITA members.

Years of planning goes into the IMHX exhibition and as co-owner of the event, the British Industrial Truck Association was heavily involved in arrangements. To mark the occasion, the association mounted its largest ever presence at the event, with its impressive stand proving a rallying point for members throughout the four days of the show.

It was also the focus of attention when the association released news that it was in talks with fellow association, the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA), over a possible merger.

The merger is likely to influence much of BITA’s activities during the year ahead. Currently, talks are continuing and once there is any update, the association make a further announcement.

In the meantime, it will continue to focus on its goal of raising safety standards across the material handling industry – an endeavour which occupied much of the association’s activities during 2019.

IMHX was inevitably the focus of much of this work, characterised once again by the high standard of entries for the Design4Safety awards. From BITA’s perspective, it is very encouraging that manufacturers and suppliers are continuing to raise the bar when it comes to safety and their efforts justify BITA’s ambition to make the industry safer.

This ambition was not limited to the Design4Safety awards. At the start of 2019, the association took the decision to follow in the footsteps of the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) in the United States and establish National Forklift Safety Day (NFSD) in the UK.

NFSD promotes best practice and the safe operation of forklift trucks throughout the material handling industry. In collaboration with the Health & Safety Executive, the inaugural UK campaign spread the message that the wearing of seat belts or the use of restraints whilst operating forklift trucks saves lives. The campaign message also stressed it is the responsibility of managers to enforce seat belt use.

Such was the positive response to the campaign, that NFSD will again take place in 2020 – with a different message. BITA’s aim is to make the event a fixture of the material handling calendar.

In tandem with NFSD, the association has reinforced its message by launching a series of new safety videos, which can be viewed via its website.

It just remains to wish all Warehouse and Logistics News readers a Merry Christmas and we look forward to another year of success during 2020.

BITA is a substantial and dynamic trade association representing a membership of 78 forklift truck manufacturers, suppliers, service providers and media operating in the UK.

BITA produces a wide range of specialist publications, encompassing best practice and health and safety assurance, as well as technical guidance notes and unique market insight. Its specialist committees include the Truck Suppliers Group (TSG), Technical Policy Committee (TPC), and the Component & Services Group (CSG) among many others.

BITA is the voice of the industry in matters technical and legislative at the highest levels in Europe and internationally. It enjoys a close working relationship with bodies such as the UK Health and Safety Executive, the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

As a member of the British Materials Handling Foundation (BMHF), BITA is allied with the Fédération Européenne de la Manutention (FEM), the European manufacturers’ association of materials handling, lifting and storage equipment.

BITA members, including many international brands, manufacture and distribute over 90% of all new forklifts procured each year in the UK. They employ 7,000 people directly and enjoy a combined annual turnover of £1.3bn. BITA members play an increasingly important role in the UK’s overall economic health, supply chain effectiveness and environmental performance.

Aims & Objectives

BITA is the UK’s leading trade association for forklift truck manufacturers and suppliers, campaigning on technical and legislative matters globally and championing improved safety standards.

Main Events in 2020

June 9 – National Forklift Safety Day 2020

Summer – Annual Thought Leadership Event and AGM


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