Top 3 Trends in Industrial Automation

June 12, 2012

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The global industrial automation market is forecast to reach more than $200 billion by 2015. Moving forward, three key factors are expected to transform the face of industrial automation: energy efficiency, advanced technology and emerging economies.

The United States and Chinese markets are expected to drive 9.5 percent growth in the global industrial automation market to reach $159.8 billion in 2012, according to recent findings from IMS Research. Despite individual European countries slipping back into recession, the global industrial automation market is forecast to reach more than $200 billion by 2015, buoyed by improved economies worldwide.

Purchased largely for manufacturing processes, industrial automation equipment is a key factor in a country’s gross domestic product and, as IMS Research notes, generally indicative of economic health.

Machinery production output alone drives demand for nearly half of the total industrial automation equipment market. Based on U.S. Department of Commerce data published last week, new orders for industrial machinery in the first four months of 2012 were up 6.1 percent over the same period last year. In the first quarter of 2012, U.S. manufacturing technology exports rose consistently, according to the Association for Manufacturing Technology yesterday.

“Machinery production in the U.S. had a very strong first quarter with approximately 8 percent growth, compared to the first quarter of 2011,” IMS Research reports. “The Americas region in total, comprised of North and South America, is poised for strong growth in industrial automation equipment in 2012, and performed the best in the first quarter, according to quarterly equipment trackers, with positive growth across several equipment types compared to the first quarter of 2011.”

Asia, the largest consumer of industrial automation products, is forecast to spend $64 billion – nearly 40 percent of the global market – in 2012, IMS Research analyst Sarah Sultan says. Combined, the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions account for 65 percent of the global market for industrial automation electronics.

Moving forward, three key factors are expected to transform the face of industrial automation: energy efficiency, advanced technology and geo-economics, according to Frost & Sullivan.

Based on a survey of several hundred companies conducted in December 2011, the research firm’s paper highlights three key areas of growth for the industrial automation and process control market:

  • Sustainability and Energy Efficiency | Sustainability is expected to be a major measure of success for the global manufacturing industry, and growing focus on implementing energy-efficient solutions in process and discrete industries will promote sustainable manufacturing. Energy efficiency concerns will dominate business in the electric motors market, while wastewater treatment and handling pumps will likely dominate traditional water pumping around the world. Ultimately, four major areas of influence will likely determine business models in future factories: integrated enterprise ecosystems; sustainability; lifecycle assessment; and eco-efficiency analysis.

  • Smart Technologies | Factories of the future will likely leverage "megatrends" like cloud computing, cyber-security and mobile communication technologies. Driven by the need for greater productivity and efficiency, organizations are adopting these technologies to provide effective interaction between the factory floor and the enterprise across all end users, enabling end users to gain a competitive edge in the global market. Asset management and flexible manufacturing are also forecast to drive factory-enterprise integration, and Frost & Sullivan foresees significant potential for automation and customized service solutions in industrial applications.

  • Emerging Economies | The so-called BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – along with other emerging economies worldwide are forecast to sustain high growth in industrial automation markets. The strongest growth is expected in emerging markets, particularly in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. However, in more developed regions like North America and Western Europe, opportunities exist in the modernization of old infrastructure. In addition, flexible manufacturing will likely aid regional customization by aligning the product portfolio to suit market demands.
“Along with sustainability, these factors are set to influence product design, project cost and service capabilities of industrial automation vendors in the next-generation enterprise,” Muthukumar Viswanathan, director for automation and process control at Frost & Sullivan, said in a statement.

For more on Frost’s insights on the industrial automation and process control industry, see the slideshow below.

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