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Global motion control market `stumbles`

04 October, 2012

While most of the global industrial automation market grew by double-digit percentages in 2011, he market for general motion control (GMC) systems “stumbled” and was held to low single-digit growth, according to a new analysis by the ARC Advisory Group. It says that the Asian market, in particular, was hit by the tsunami in Japan, the slowdown in China, and a stall in capital expenditures in the semiconductor market.

After a 45% growth between 2009 and 2010, the GMC market last year “returned abruptly to normalcy or simply lost momentum”, ARC says.  Compared to other segments – such as PLCs, 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 behaviour”.
Some suppliers exposed to the crisis in Japan and the downturn in the semiconductor and solar industries, were hit by double-digit declines. As a result, market share gains in 2011 were “disproportionate”. ARC sees this as an example of how important it is for suppliers to increase diversification across industries and regions. Some suppliers, which endured declines in business of up to 50% during the downturn in 2009, once again experienced “staggering” losses, it reports.
According to ARC, manufacturers are increasingly seeking automation systems that adapt to less rigidly defined production environments, improve product quality, reduce costs, and shorten time to market. Manufactured products are becoming smaller and the increase in short-run production has made it impossible to rely on human labour to achieve the required production speeds.

“These dynamics on the manufacturing side are feeding a resurgent demand for motion control solutions in mature economies,” says ARC research director, Sal Spada, the principal author of the General Motion Control Worldwide Outlook report.

The biggest boost to the GMC market during 2011 came from increased capital expenditure in the automotive, machinery manufacturing, and printing and publishing industries. The combined revenues from these sectors allowed the market to expand.

However, ARC warns, the automotive and machinery manufacturing industries appear to be approaching a saturation point in terms of growth.

Acquisitions and partnerships in the GMC market have changed the competitive climate in every region of the world. The market had been relatively stable in terms of the competitive climate but, over the past two years, competition has emerged from players that were once regarded simply as small competitive disruptions. They have now made measurable gains in market share, ARC states.

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