Precision gearbox and geared motor shipments were 69% higher in 2011 than in 2009 because of increased manufacturing output in 2010 and 2011, according to IMS Research. Although analysts project further growth in the market for precision gearboxes and geared motors, the picture is not quite so rosy from 2012 to 2016.
Sales for machine tools and industrial robots exceeded expectations in 2010 and 2011, pushing up demand for precision gearboxes. Pent-up demand for new automobile production lines following the global recession was a major driver in growth. Manufacturing output increased overall in North America and Asia-Pacific, driving demand for advanced materials handling, packaging, and food, beverage and tobacco machinery.
Although precision planetary gearbox sales accounted for the majority of the increase during the 2009-2011 period, sales of precision geared motors and right angle gearboxes also recovered to pre-recession levels.
“There are two reasons behind the strong growth in sales of precision gearboxes and geared motors,” said Bryan Turnbough, an analyst with IHS, which recently acquired IMS Research, “one being that demand for precision geared products continues to be more niche than standard industrial geared products, which allows for greater volatility in the precision geared products market; the other being that the standard geared products are continuing to be replaced with precision geared products in greater numbers due to growing demand for higher torque densities and precision.”
Market revenues for precision geared products are projected to grow on average 6.7% a year from 2011 to 2016. With machine tool and industrial robot sales slowing and the lingering weakness in the global economy, sales of precision geared products are expected to slow from 2012 to 2016. Overcapacity resulting from the rapid increase in investments in new production facilities amid slow economic growth is also expected to factor in the slowdown of precision geared product sales.
“After two years of very high demand for precision geared products used in machine tools and industrial robots, the cyclical nature of the machine tool and robotics industry can be expected to have the most profound impact on the market for precision geared products,” Turnbough said.
The markets for precision geared products sold into machine tools and robotics are forecast to be the slowest-growing markets with respective revenue compound annual growth rates of 5.9% and 3.2% from 2011 to 2016, according to the IMS.
Slower growth in sales of precision geared products through 2016 does not mean the market for precision geared products does not have any long-term potential for further growth. IMS Research expects the sales growth of precision geared products to accelerate once industrial demand catches up to production capacity. Precision geared product suppliers are also proactively developing products for use in other industries such as chemicals, and power and energy, and this is likely to promote additional growth for sales of precision gearboxes and geared motors over the next five years and possibly over the next decade.