So says a recent report from information and analytics source IHS Technology.
The $185.3 billion represents a 7% increase over the $173 billion racked up in 2013. This year marks the return of more vigorous activity after the industry managed only middling revenue increases of 1.2% in 2012 and 3.4% in 2013. Prior to those two years, expansion had been in the double digits in a heartening show of force after the recession. Healthy expansion is set to continue after this year, says IHS, with industry revenue forecast to hit $225 billion by 2017.
Motors and motor controls will be the largest segment in 2014, accounting for 40% of total industrial automation equipment revenue. Automation equipment is next with 31%, followed by power-transmission equipment with 29%.
The automation equipment sector will be affected substantially this year by technological innovation, says IHS. Specifically, demand for more communication and more sophisticated machine control will drive technical advancements, especially in the discrete controller markets. Controllers overall are at the hightest risk of cybersecurity attacks, and this will prompt product development seeking solutions to forestall or prevent unauthorized incursions altogether.
Three distinct market developments will help the industrial automation equipment market continue to grow in the future. First, manufacturing will be transformed from a productivity-driven process to one that is controlled by digital information; IHS refers to this trend as "convergence." Second, 3-D printing could also represent another turning point, offering possibilities likely to alter the manufacturing landscape in sweeping ways. And third, the combination of an aging workforce of skilled engineers along with low rates of replacement will pose a significant concern for manufacturers, particularly in the West. Increasing levels of automation and semiautonomous robots will ultimately drive a transition to more and more automation.