Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Headwinds in the general motion control market result in modest growth, study finds


November 5, 2012
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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The worldwide market for general motion control systems stumbled in 2011 while most of the industrial automation market continued to grow by double digit percentages, according to a new study from ARC Advisory Group.

The year-on-year market growth was held to the low single digits as the Asian market was disrupted by the tsunami in Japan, slow-down in China and the stall in capital expenditures in the semiconductor market.  After a 45 per cent growth in the general motion control market between 2009 and 2010, the overall business has abruptly returned to normalcy or simply lost momentum.  Compared to other industrial market segments such as programmable logic controllers, AC drives, and machine safeguarding, which all continued to sustain double digit year on year growth rates in 2011, the general motion control market exhibited an anomalous market behavior according to the study.
Mixed reports developed as suppliers exposed to the crisis in Japan and semiconductor and solar industries were once again impacted by double digit declines.  As a result, the market share gains in 2011 were disproportionate.  This is another example of how important it is to increase diversification across industries and regions.  Suppliers who endured as much as 50 per cent declines in business during the downturn in 2009 once again experienced staggering losses.
Manufacturers are increasingly seeking automation solutions that adapt to a less rigidly defined production environment, improve product quality, reduce costs, and shorten time to market.  Manufactured products are becoming dimensionally smaller and the increase in short run production has simply made it impossible to rely upon human labor to achieve the velocity required in production output.  “These dynamics on the manufacturing side are feeding a resurgent demand for motion control solutions in mature economies,” according to research director Sal Spada, the principal author of ARC’s “General Motion Control Worldwide Outlook.”
The capital expenditures in the automotive, machinery manufacturing and printing and publishing industries provided the greatest contributions to the general motion control market growth in 2011.  The combined motion control revenues in these industries enabled the market to move into positive growth territory.  However, the automotive and machinery manufacturing industries appear to be ready to reach a saturation point in growth.  These three industries are often correlated in terms of overall growth as the entire automotive supply chain needs to improve productivity to support the increasing demand from the large automobile manufacturers.