According to a new ARC Advisory Group study, machine safeguarding is the fastest growing segment of the overall discrete manufacturing automation market. The worldwide market for machine safeguarding is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.5 per cent over the next five years. The market was $1.5billion in 2006 and is forecast to be over $2.8billion in 2011.
The overall safeguarding market is growing as a direct result of the continued demand for industrial machinery. Machinery shipments are escalating at an unprecedented rate in virtually every sector of the market. Consequently, the demand side is creating a pull in the market across the entire range of safeguarding product segments. Research Director Sal Spada, the principal author of ARC's Machine Safeguarding Solutions Worldwide Outlook comments: "The challenge to suppliers of machine safeguarding components is that increasingly more control-reliable safeguarding components are entering the market. This is pulling some of the growth away from the traditional safety relay module market."
Global manufacturers view safety as a means to offset the decline in the availability of a large skilled labour pool. Strategic safety initiatives have moved to the forefront of critical topics for manufacturers due to an increased awareness of total return on investment. In addition to ensuring worker safety, manufacturers are learning how an intelligent safety strategy can become a competitive advantage rather than a cost burden. As the availability of control-reliable servos, fluid power and PLCs emerge on the market, safeguarding systems in these sectors are threatening the traditional safety relay market sector.
Consulting services are increasingly more important in the selling process to assist machine builders in making the right choice for their particular application. In many ways, machine builders today are faced with the same challenges they face when seeking to create the optimal mechatronic design for the machine; they require a completely new approach to the design of the machine, as the optimal balance between mechanical, electrical, and software becomes critical to achieving higher productivity and reliability.
The highest growth markets for machine safeguarding are China, Japan and India. Japan is experiencing significant growth as the ageing population exits the workforce. The Japanese government has mandated that companies with greater than 20 workers must purchase machinery and equipment with safety integrated solutions. China, in contrast, is driven by the major growth in tourism and infrastructure projects. Also, the transfer of production to China by major manufacturers is exporting a safety mentality to the region.