Following significant shrinkage in the North American market for general motion control systems in 2001 and 2002, the market is now rebounding and will experience healthy growth in the years ahead.
That’s the conclusion reached in a recently released market study from ARC Advisory Group, Dedham, Mass. The report projects a compound annual growth rate of 6.2 percent over the next five years, when the market will pass the $1 billion mark.
Manufacturing in a variety of industries has become more challenging due to greater product variations, faster production speeds and increased quality requirements at every stage of the production process. “General motion control systems present one of the key technologies capable of meeting these challenges that manufacturers face,” says ARC Senior Analyst Himanshu Shah, the principal author of the study, “General Motion Control Outlook for North America, Market Analysis & Forecast Through 2008.”
A number of factors will drive the market growth, the study says. Food and beverage, semiconductor, and plastic and rubber industries—which are some of the major users of general motion control equipment—are expected to increase capital investments.
The study also notes that new battles are brewing involving networks, increased standard programming language options and varied architectures.
The motion network battle continues, as suppliers make significant investments in the development of dissimilar motion control networks, ARC says. Use of Ethernet for motion control networking is one of the most active areas suppliers are addressing, due to the rising demand from end users and original equipment manufacturers. Although many of these protocols are open, they are different, and only a limited number of suppliers participate with each of them. With organizations representing Profibus and SERCOS (for serial real-time communications system) announcing upcoming Ethernet-based solutions, ARC expects the battle for the standard motion control network to get fiesty. The Open DeviceNet Vendors Association (ODVA) is also expected to join in the fray, with the addition of time synchronization services to its Common Industrial Protocol, for use with DeviceNet and Ethernet/IP in applications including distributed motion control.
The debate between centralized and distributed architectures for motion control solutions also continues. The distributed architecture is growing at a rapid pace due to high processing power at a lower cost. The study forecasts how this battle will play out.