Growing levels of automation poised to drive advanced motion control markets into the new millennium

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 1 March 2000




(2000), "Growing levels of automation poised to drive advanced motion control markets into the new millennium", Assembly Automation, Vol. 20 No. 1.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Growing levels of automation poised to drive advanced motion control markets into the new millennium

Growing levels of automation poised to drive advanced motion control markets into the new millennium

Keywords: Automation, Millennium

The advanced motion control products market is in a state of greater unrest than it has been for many years, reports a new study by Frost & Sullivan, the international market consulting company.

The applications for advanced motion control products are wide ranging and numerous. In the vast majority of instances, advanced motion control products are not direct end products, but integral components of other equipment and systems. Because of this, the market for advanced motion control products is a very good indicator of the general economic and industrial situations.

Dr Lia Paschalidou, research manager at Frost & Sullivan, comments: "There is evidence of a general pressure for lower prices in many industrial and consumer markets, and this has forced manufacturers to review their own production processes. Companies are seeking to reduce production times, and increase efficiency to maximise profits. A reduction of personnel costs is also an important consideration; consequently, production lines have had to become more flexible to accommodate these changes".

Frost & Sullivan's study identifies the following issues as having a crucial effect on the overall advanced motion control products market - growing levels of automation, competitive prices, product reliability and renewed investment cycles.

The introduction of new computer technologies for the controllers, and the trend of manufacturers pursuing a more standardised product range in order to meet customer demand for competitive pricing levels further characterise this market. All these factors are expected to push total revenues from $1.69 billion in 1999 to a level of $2.17 billion by 2005.

This has provided many new opportunities for advanced motion control products. Many of the older, more mechanical means of control have been replaced by the latest advancements in product design. Advanced motion control products are mainly replacing the electromechanical methods such as limit switches, cams and clutch/brake combinations. There is also an increasing trend away from pneumatics and hydraulics.

The European advanced motion control products market is expected to show reasonable, slow growth in future years. The market has been in a period of recovery after the effects of the recessionary forces of the early 1990s, and from the loss in revenues due to the large price crash in the controllers market. The relatively mature nature of the market, and a slight degree of over-capacity, imply that a fairly low level of demand will prevail from existing applications.

Demand for controllers, representing the most powerful product market, will continue to grow, fuelled by the latest technological developments, benefiting from the low price levels and broad product spectrum of computer-style technology. The integration of controllers with drives and feedback loops will further contribute to the importance of the product.

End-users of systems which incorporate advanced motion control products, such as automation systems and process lines, will have the opportunity to upgrade their existing controllers. This will enable them to take advantage of the versatility, user-friendliness, and low cost of new controllers. The growth in market value will not be as high as may be envisaged, since the effect of this improved technology is to reduce the actual prices of the products.

Meanwhile, Frost & Sullivan's study expects the servo market to remain reasonably strong with steady growth rates. The study observes an overall shift in end-user purchasing patterns towards the increased use of servo-based systems. "Such systems are now more often favoured over mechanical, and pneumatic systems. Servos are also beginning to replace stepper products in many applications, where the low costs of such equipment allow end-users to take advantage of their more sophisticated nature", Dr Paschalidou adds.

The three main competitors in the European advanced motion control products market, displaying dominant market shares in every European region, are Siemens, GE Fanuc and Indramat. Other significant companies are Sanyo Denki, Heidenhain, Sonceboz, SIG Positec, Bosch, Schneider Electric and Rockwell Automation.

Strategies for the future, especially in the light of an improving economic environment, include increased product ranges, improved research and development, focusing on core competencies, and improved customer care/after-sales services.

Further details from Frost & Sullivan's Public Relations Department. Tel: +44 (0) 171 915 7824; Fax. +44 (0) 171 730 3343. E-mail:; URL:

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