Human Operated Heavy Equipment Statistics


To determine key statistics about heavy equipment that is designed for a human operator doing complex tasks, such as forklifts. This information will then support a paper on the future of industrial autonomous vehicles.

Early Findings

Forklift Sales

  • In 2018, the global forklift market sales reached a record high, with 1.334 million units sold.
  • The Industrial Truck Association provides figures for sales in the North American forklift truck industry. In 2018, 260,180 units were sold. In 2017, 253,146 units were sold. In 2016, 231,000 units were sold and 2015, 225,534 units.

Heavy Equipment Operators

Autonomous Industrial Vehicles

  • CNH Technologies have created an autonomous tractor, that uses GPS and sensor technologies to work unmanned. New Holland has also created an autonomous tractor, the T8 Blue Power, that can also collect data on soil conditions.
  • Seegrid is a company that makes autonomous industrial vehicles, such as robots that transport materials for customers. Unlike other companies that use laser-based systems for navigation, Seegrid uses cameras.
  • Otto Motors, of Clearpath Robotics, creates autonomous vehicles for material transport on manufacturing or industrial sites.
  • Caterpillar creates autonomous mining trucks.
  • The Rio Tinto mining firm uses autonomous trucks, trains, and drills.

Industrial Equipment Rental

Ground Support Equipment

Proprietary Research Available

We found some proprietary research from one of our data partners which may be helpful:
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Summary of Findings

  • As information on forklift sales was found to be readily available, the sales of other industrial vehicle equipment will likely be publicly available as well.
  • Initial research identified the number of jobs for some heavy equipment operators. Other forms of heavy equipment operators, such as agricultural equipment operators, did not appear to be listed separately from broader occupations.
  • Preliminary research shows that information on autonomous industrial vehicles and the companies involved in them is readily available and more descriptions of their offerings and differentiators can be found.
  • Statistics on equipment rental from specific companies does not appear to be publicly available.
  • Information about how many pieces of Ground Support Equipment are used at specific airlines was not found to be publicly available.
  • We recommend continuing the research as follows:

Proposed next steps:

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