The world market for discrete machine-safety components was estimated at $3.4 billion in 2012, reports research firm IHS. The American market accounted for 21% and Asia 20%. The remaining 59% of 2012 revenues were in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
Overall industrial growth in Asia is higher than that of the American market, as has been the case for a number of years. Machine-safety in Asia is also playing catch-up. As such, machine-safety revenues are projected to grow more quickly at 12.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to 2017 versus 6.8% CAGR for the American market. This means that Asia is forecast to surpass the Americas during 2014 to become the second largest regional discrete machine-safety component market.
This market is largely driven by China and the other emerging economies in the region, which are becoming more conscious of safety in their industrialized workplaces.
Price pressure and a lack of safety directives means Asia can be a tough market to penetrate. However, influence from multi-national companies, as well as realization from local end users that safety is linked to productivity, means more machine builders are using safety components more often, boosting their market potential. Regardless of the greater realizations of the benefits of safety, it's still seen as an unnecessary expense by some. Therefore, simpler and cheaper safety components are still more preferable in Asia. Indeed safety relays, basic interlock switches and type 2 light curtains are estimated to be considerably more common than their more complex equivalents. Safety standards are not yet established in countries like China, but they're on their way. It seems likely they will be based on European standards, which is beneficial for European vendors operating in Asia. They're less likely to need to modify their product range. If these standards come to fruition, it will mean a huge boost for the safety component market in Asia.
Safety relays offer the lowest cost form of controlling safety and, Japan aside, Asian revenues are projected to grow more quickly than those of configurable safety modules and safety PLCs. Japan is a much more mature market, in line with western regions, and so higher-end safety equipment is more common, but, as the Japanese economy remains flat, this does not boost the market much.
Globally, safety-component revenue growth is forecast to continue to grow above that of industrial growth. The realization of cost savings through integration of safety is evident. Reducing potential for accidents means less downtime and injuries, which improves productivity and reduces outlays. Overall, the future is strong for safety components, and Asia is proving to be a large potential market.