Machinery Growth Gets Motion Controls Moving

Unlike many other industrial automation suppliers, which get a higher percentage of their revenues from infrastructure expansion or energy efficiency markets, the motion controls sector relies so heavily on the machinery production market that it was particularly hard hit in 2009 as machinery production fell almost 19% globally. But the motion controls market is expected to begin its recovery in 2010, with revenues increasing about 15% over 2009 levels, according to the latest numbers from IMS Research in Austin, Texas.

The motion controls market is always so dependent on machinery production—more than 95% of motion controls sold in 2009 went into machinery production—so it is very closely tied to the performance of that market, says Jenalea Howell, IMS Research analyst. A pick-up of machinery orders in various industries in late 2009 and early 2010 is expected to lead, therefore, to a gradual recovery for motion controllers.

Motion controls revenues declined 25% in 2009. Although the market is expected to recover to the tune of $10.5 billion this year, it will get back to 2008 revenue levels only by 2012, analysts predict.

The high-tech sectors of semiconductor equipment and electronics and electronics assembly equipment are leading the market out of the downturn, according to IMS Research. Motion controls in semiconductor equipment are expected to grow 35% in 2010. That said, that same market sector dropped by more than 40% in 2009, although it could see a return to 2008 levels as early as 2011, Howell notes. "But the semiconductor industry is so cyclical, so it's not expected to keep that high growth rate," she adds. The motion controls market for electronics and electronics assembly equipment is expected to grow about 25% in 2010.

Equipment manufacturers-including packaging equipment-are also seeing significant growth from the food and beverage, and medical industries. Packaging equipment is expected to constitute one of the fastest growing vertical markets for motion controls through 2014, IMS Research reports.

Geographically speaking, it's the Asia-Pacific region that offers the largest opportunity for motion controls growth, driven by economic growth in China. In fact, according to another IMS Research report released in September, China was able to maintain machinery production growth in 2009 while almost every other country saw steep declines. And that growth is expected to near 20% in 2010, affecting the motion controls industry there in kind. "Machinery orders in China picked up during the summer of 2010, and machinery production is predicted to grow by 19.2% during all of 2010 in terms of revenues," Howell says. "This is projected to lead to a revenue growth of 16.4% for motion control products."

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