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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
CHINA: industry primed for application growth
CHINA: industry primed for application growth
Despite R&D lags, sensors remain one of the strongest component segments in China. The segment boasts of huge export potential and expanding application range.
The sensor industry is one of the rapidly growing component industries in mainland China. Respectively, sensor output and sales in 2005 is estimated at 2 billion units and $3.3 billion, according to the China Sensor Trade Association (CSTA). In the past five years, average sales of sensors grew at an annual rate of 39 percent.
Output and sales are expected to further climb this year, as more manufacturers join the product line. The CSTA forecasts that the number of entrants may jump by 30 percent every year by the end of the 11th five-year plan.
Industry sources suggest that, the further integration of micorelectromechanical systems (MEMS), new solid-state technologies, and the proliferation of distributed networks fuel the sector's rapid pace of growth. Moreover, the market for hardware, software, professional and wireless networks services for machine- to-machine (M2M) communication has also fueled the production of sensors. The M2M market alone is set to grow at annual rate of 27 percent, from $9.3 billion in 2004 to $31 billion in 2008, according to the wireless data research group.
Mainland China is home to about 1,500 sensor makers, most of which are small to medium-size companies. These makers are mostly engaged in the manufacture of low-end and mid- range products while still enhancing their product lines. Popular sensors from these suppliers include pressure, thermal, photosensitive, gas and humidity, proximity, optical, IR, current/voltage and weighing types.
Most makers admit that they lag behind their foreign counterparts in terms of production technology and investment. Only a few makers, mostly large-size or foreign-owned, can produce ultrasonic, MEMS and nanometer sensors, which require a higher level of technology. Makers with this capability are focused on new and profitable applications, such as medical, automotive, military and avionics.
In terms of product development, makers in China are targeting to produce miniaturized sensors that are multifunctional and intelligent.
R&D varies depending on application
Various applications, such as measuring, industrial automation, communication, household and consumer electronics will continue to drive the sensor industry in mainland China. These applications are expected to raise demand for sensors at a 30 percent annual rate, said Mr Li, Marketing Manager of First MEMS Co. Ltd
Based in Beijing, first MEMS pioneered in the use of MEMS technology to produce prototypes of pressure sensors. Currently, the company specializes in the design and production of micro sensors, polymer resistive relative humidity sensors, gas sensors and other related products. It has a monthly capacity of 100,000 units.
Focusing on technological innovations, the company invests 10 percent of its annual sales in R&D. Furthermore, it has forged technical cooperation with international companies to produce better and less costly sensors. In the near term, the company plans to bolster its market visibility overseas.
Beijing Westzh Machine and Technology Ltd, meanwhile, is concentrated in the development and manufacture of pressure, torque, temperature, and weighing sensors. The company's CYB-820S torque sensor is suited to avionics. Utilizing strain gauge technology, the device features anti-burst attestation.
Moreover, the CYB-820S allows non- contact without transformer coupling and converts current signal to 4-20mA output current. According to the Beijing Westzh, its automotive sensors are mostly applied in brakes and engine transmissions.
Hunan Huaxingyu Sensing Technology Co. Ltd is one of the leading sensor makers in China. Aside from undertaking eight state-level projects, the company possesses five national patents – Digital Clinometer, Electronic Horizontal Ruler for Construction, Horizontal Ruler Appearance Design, Digital Angle Sensor and Multifunction Electronic Level Meter.
Specializing in digital angle sensors, Hunan Huanxingyu Sensing accounts for more than 80 percent of market share. According to the company it will continue to focus on angle sensors, developing various systems which will enhance angle control. Its sensors are suited to automotive, industrial, medical and construction applications.