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Global investment in manufacturing boosts PLC sales

26 July, 2007

Rapid expansion in manufacturing around the world is resulting in healthy sales for PLCs (programmable logic controllers), with the global market forecast to grow at a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 7.3% over the five years to 2011. The market, which was worth more than $8.3bn last year, will reach almost $12bn in 2011, according to a new study from the ARC Advisory Group.

(This figure differs significantly from the $9bn value recently predicted for global bearings market in 2011 by another market analyst, IMS Research. IMS also forecasts a more modest growth rate of 5%.)

ARC expects capital investments in automation to remain strong across many industries during the five-year study period. "It is clear that manufacturers have come to rely heavily on automation technology as they work to optimise their operations to maximise productivity and profitability in an increasingly competitive global manufacturing environment," says ARC senior analyst Himanshu Shah, the reportís principal author. "As a result, the demand for PLCs will grow robustly."

Demand-side conditions in the automation marketplace are strong, ARC adds, with continued heavy investment in China, India, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. Manufacturers are increasing their expenditure on automation equipment as they recognise the contribution that automation can make to profitability and success.

However, the market remains fiercely competitive with PLC suppliers chasing manufacturing activities around the world by setting up local support facilities, ARC reports. At the heart of these dynamics, it adds, is the increasing demand for flexibility and agility in manufacturing operations at the lowest possible plant lifecycle costs.

Meeting the challenges of the marketplace requires some advanced strategic thinking by PLC suppliers, ARC adds. Global manufacturers are implementing strategies to meet the challenges of the "flat" world, and automation is a ticket to be a participant in this world, it suggests. Manufacturers are being driven by the need to react quickly to emerging market opportunities, to increasing pressure to improve financial performance, and to the effects of globalisation.

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