Manufacturing: More motors shipped, 14% DCS growth, RFID expansion
Rosslyn, VA, Dedham, MA, and Cambridge, UK Motors, distributed control systems (DCS) and radio frequency identification (RFID) are markets to watch these days, with growth trends that range from modest to “unprecedented,” according to several current reports.
Motor shipments edged up in the second quarter of 2007 as demand for integral and fractional horsepower motors grew for the second consecutive quarter, according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) . The NEMA Motors Shipments Index, which rose 2.8% on a quarter-to-quarter basis in the second quarter, suggests that gains in demand growth on a year-over-year basis remain modest, citing a 0.1% gain in the topline index compared to Q206. The index, showing an increase of 56% from its nadir during the last economic downturn, is a composite measure of NEMA-member companies’ U.S. shipments, using data drawn from NEMA statistical surveys adjusted for inflation and seasonal fluctuations, the organization says. Following a notable slowing in the first quarter, presenting a gain of only 0.6% on an annualized basis, macroeconomic growth figured in at 3.4% in Q2. In spite of slow housing starts, recent data reports business adding to stockpiles after several quarters of depletion. Another factor is cash-rich companies following what is referred to as “an unprecedented run for corporate profitability.” While integral horsepower motors are expected to achieve modest gains in the future, end-market conditions are less positive for fractional horsepower motors and are expected to remain a limiting factor to new gains in the topline index, says NEMA.
Meanwhile, the DCS market increased growth by more than 14% from 2005 to 2006 and the prediction is for a healthy growth pattern through 2011, according to a recently released ARC Advisory Group study. There are indications that growth may approach 2005-06 levels, but will probably not exceed them. The ARC sees the current growth phase of the worldwide automation market continuing through the next few years, with “signs of sluggishness” in North American and Western European markets. Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America are tagged as areas where opportunities should abound. Among the ARC’s findings are that services remain the number one growth business for automation across the spectrum of the plant lifecycle and the scope of almost all automation products and applications. Additionally, fieldbus solutions are being deployed in increasing numbers as they become increasingly accepted in a broader range of industries and by a larger number of end users. In some cases, fieldbus is becoming a corporate standard for manufacturers, ARC says. Another observation in the study is that Asia continues to drive the global market as China and India are positioned for substantial long-term growth, revving up manufacturing for more exports, developing infrastructure, investing in basic industries, and bringing personnel up to speed to run plants. ARC predicts China will be the single biggest geographical market for automation products and services in 20 years.
Another notable trend is the rapid adoption of RFID in manufacturing and logistics. The IDTechEx RFID Knowledgebase of 2,959 projects in 98 countries reports that manufacturing and logistics have risen to become 17.2% of all projects. In China, that comes to 26.3% of all projects. The adoption of RFID is taking new forms. For instance, ubiquitous sensor networks with fault-tolerant ZigBee networking are in trial for asset management. Dr. Chang-Hun Lee of the National Information Society Agency in Korea predicts “Ubiquitous Sensor Networks will be a huge RFID market in a few years.” A broad range of case studies from the Knowledgebase indicates that RFID uses across the globe are proliferating and that the IDTechEx RFID Europe conference (Cambridge, UK, September 18-19, 2007) will reflect these significant developments.
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