Automation market survey!

12/06/2014

Possibly one of the hardest sectors in which to get a complete picture is Automation in any country. The reason is the complexity of the industries and processes which include automation as an important part. Indeed some surveys we have seen seem not to have a even a basic understanding of the discipline.

EU_IR_4321Here in Ireland the baton has been taken up by Simotech a company which does have the requisite extensive experience in all aspects of Automation and Manufacturing Instrument Systems.  It is a comprehensive and well designed questionnaire specifically aimed at automation professionals, either European Union passport holders or those who are licensed to work within the EU.

Pat Desmond, the MD at Simotech, who has himself many years experience at the coal face of automation in Europe and elsewhere, explains, “The last decade has seen major changes in the Automation industry with significant peaks and slumps in the market. General indications are that the industry is experiencing growth again over the past 18 months.”

The why!
The survey objective is to benchmark the state of the Automation industry in Ireland. It plans to be the most comprehensive insight into the views of employers, employees and suppliers.

It is hoped to help all in the automation community of practice, employers, employees, and contractors, to understand the current automation marketplace for engineers. It will help to understand career expectations, salary expectations, locations, technical capabilities, and the career paths into automation and migration into more senior positions.

• Engineers: It will help them gauge where they are with their career expectations, salary benchmarking against their peers, business growth forecasts, the most popular locations for engineers and much more.

• Employers: It will help them understand what motivates the automation engineering community, remuneration benchmarks, how to attract the best engineers into the best positions. It will also assess the sentiment for growth across various industry sectors, etc.

The survey should take no more than six minutes and is simple to complete with no open ended written responses required.

Obviously the success of this survey will be dependent on getting a wide spectrum of engineers and employers across all industry sectors, so participants are encourged to share thesurvey link with their colleagues and employees.

Automation Survey!“Your privacy is important to us. We guarantee that no personal or systems information will be recorded as part of this survey,” says Pat Desmond.

Reward
As a Token of our appreciation participants have the option to enter into a draw for an Apple iPad mini on completion of the survey. To enter the draw, simply forward the entry form at the end of the survey and we will send you on the complimentary report when published and enter you into thedraw. We respect corporate giving policies so we will also make a donation to Unicef in lieu of those who do not wish to enter the draw.


End-user expectations and requirements of services across various product markets

05/11/2013
Industrial services – a new frontier for business model innovation and profitability

The poor scope for technological innovation coupled with growing market maturity, has motivated major industrial product suppliers to concentrate efforts on achieving growth through alternative channels. In this context, the potential for industrial services attains center stage, both from the standpoint of industrial vendors interested in market expansion and end-users aiming to maximise profitability.

The market has grown significantly in the last decade. In order to better understand the emerging services market, Frost & Sullivan has mapped the emerging segment into the larger framework of Industry 4.0.  “The idea of Industry 4.0 assisted us in identifying a few key criteria like Big Data, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Services, as functional pillars catalysing the transformation of the current organisational architecture”, notes Frost & Sullivan Practice Director Industrial Automation & Process Control and Measurement & Instrumentation Muthukumar Viswanathan.

According to recent analysis by Frost & Sullivan, the overall estimates for service revenues accrued from automation products like DCS, PLC and SCADA. reached nearly $15 billion in 2012. The conspicuous part of this large service base is the increasing demand for new value-added services that goes beyond traditional repair and maintenance.

fands

Global Pump Figures!

For example analysis on global pump market finds that the market earned revenues of €9.38  billion ($12.65b) in 2011 and estimates this to reach €13 billion ($17.55b) by 2016 with a CAGR of 6.8%. Within this segment, value-added services, such as condition monitoring, predictive maintenance, and advanced diagnostics, are rapidly gaining acceptance, and are anticipated to account for a significant portion of the growing demand for advanced pump monitoring solutions. Additionally, stringent regulations pertaining to pump efficiency and emission control, particularly in Europe and North America, is also likely to result in increased demand for superior value-added services.

From a demand perspective, end-users are increasingly looking at maintenance and plant service as a means for maximising profitability. From a market standpoint, we can safely surmise that the demand for services has improved quite significantly over the last decade. There is also a growing acknowledgement from industrial product suppliers and the end-user community about the dawn of services as the next big frontier for business model innovation and profitability.

“In order to understand and evaluate the nature of this new service frontier, Frost & Sullivan will be initiating a strategic in-depth analysis, focussing on end-user expectations and requirements of services across various product markets”, notes Mr. Viswanathan. “The study will aim to assist industrial product suppliers with designing their service mix and aligning their product strategies to better serve the needs of the end-user in a rapidly-changing industrial landscape”.


The trends that are driving electric drives

19/08/2013
What does the future hold for electric drives in the industrial automation sector? Currently there are three trends which are dictating development – speed and ease of specification, simplified control and maintenance, and machinery safety. Here, Nigel Dawson, Festo GB’s Product Manager for Electric Drives, looks at these trends.

Today’s consumers expect their products, however sophisticated, to be intuitive, readily available, and quick and safe to use. The iPad is a great example; as soon as you take it out of the box, you know how to charge it, switch it on and hey presto you’re up and running in no time at all. What’s more, if you’re a technological Luddite or need help setting it up, there’s simple online support or you can call the hotline for step-by-step assistance.

The future of electric drives: they should be easy to size, easy to order and easy to assmeble – just like the "Optimised Motion Series”

The future of electric drives: they should be easy to size, easy to order and easy to assmeble – just like the “Optimised Motion Series”

This expectation has spread into the industrial world: design engineers and machine builders expect Festo to have products that are easy to specify, for the control technology to be simple, for the maintenance to be straightforward and for the products to adhere to the latest safety legislation.

Trend One
So how can vendors help to reduce the time taken to dimension and select the product? Just as the iPad is quick and easy to select, buy and get up and running, so should electric drives be. Festo has responded to these demands with the introduction of its ‘Optimised Motion Series’, which is a range of electric drives based on those easily accessible and easy to use iPad principles.

The intuitive online configuration tool assists in the specification and selection process and for easier sizing a range of pre-defined and tested combinations with all of the necessary data is available. For easier ordering, a complete drive solution – comprising mechanical system, motor and motor controller – is available with just a single part number. And, for easier assembly, the motor and mechanical system is integrated.

Web brower technology will simplify control technology and handling of electric drives in the future!

Web brower technology will simplify control technology and handling of electric drives in the future!

Second trend
The second trend is for simplified control and maintenance and web browser technology is at work here; it allows the user to source electric drives that are easy to commission, programme and maintain. The demand from the end user is that electric drives have to be intuitive and they don’t want to have to buy specialist programming cables and software.

A standard Ethernet CAT5 cable, which is relatively cheap and readily available, will connect straight into the controller from the laptop and, using a web browser, type in the IP address of the controller, which has its own web page on-board, to commission it (as you would when setting up your own home router). This web-based configuration makes control simple too as it is based on the basic principles of solenoid valve technology. The diagnostic function, accessed via a standard web browser, supports simplified maintenance.

Trend Three
The final trend which is influencing the sector is machinery safety. But, the issue here is that the machinery safety industry is focused on electrically and electronically monitored systems that end at the motor. The question is who is monitoring the mechanics? Here, Festo have developed a unique overall safety concept integrating clamping modules and linear feedback systems onto its popular EGC axis. These mechanical measures, combined with safety functions in the drives and motors and specific electric drive safety controllers allow customers to create fully certified systems for category 4  / PLe safety from a single supplier with full documentation and circuit diagrams.

By understanding these three trends, Festo is opening up new possibilities in industrial automation, making it easier for machine builders and design engineers alike to specify, control and maintain electric drives while ensuring they comply with the latest safety legislation.  Ultimately, machine builders can improve motion control and profit margins, as well as make significant cost savings on integration.


Effect of wireless networking standards and MIMO technology on RF tests

25/04/2013
Modular instrumentation set to displace traditional counterparts in a growing number of applications

The deployment of progressively more complex telecommunication techniques, including 802.11ac, together with the adoption of advanced multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) technologies will fuel the global radio frequency (RF) testing market.

wanNew analysis from Frost & Sullivan , Global RF Testing Market: Increasing Complexity of Products Translate into Growth Opportunities for Test Vendors, finds that the market earned revenues of €2.31 billion ($3.02b) in 2011 and estimates this to reach €3.21 billion ($4.20b) in 2016. The research covers traditional general purpose (GP) instrumentation, modular GP instrumentation, semiconductor automatic test equipment (ATE), and rental GP segments.

802.11ac is one of the key drivers for the RF test equipment market. With the 802.11ac standard, faster speed and higher data handling capacity through wider channels than the existing systems are achieved.

“The existing 802.11 protocol devices have managed to satisfy network requirements over the past decade,” notes Frost & Sullivan’s Measurement & Instrumentation Industry Analyst Prathima Bommakanti. “However, with the increasing consumption of digital data, mobile data traffic needs to be handled with more powerful wireless network infrastructure that would offer more capacity, reliability, and speed.”

Research indicates that with the 802.11ac standard, the usage of 8×8 MIMO to support 160 MHz bandwidth and that with LTE advanced, the usage of 8X8 MIMO to support 100 MHZ channel bandwidth, is becoming popular. The widening adoption of MIMO will, therefore, also boost market prospects.

While the overall market is poised to expand, modular RF test equipment is expected to compete with traditional GP and semiconductor ATE in a growing number of applications. This is due to its ease-of-use, scalability and ability to support lower test costs.

As competition intensifies, scalability is seen as one of the key parameters in selecting or short listing a test vendor. In addition, brand name plays an important role in winning RF test equipment deals. These factors pose a challenge to smaller vendors in an already competitive market.

“To leverage the market’s growth potential, companies need to develop a strong focus on customer relationship management, price-performance and product innovation,” concluded Bommakanti.

• See Webopedia’s Wireless Networking Standards Chart.


Ethernet test market! #TandM

04/02/2013
40/100 GbE test equipment to make strongest gains and register triple digit growth rates

An increase in datacentre activities, rapid growth of the 40/100 GbE market, mobile backhaul applications, and infrastructure development by end users to accommodate gigabit Ethernet are driving the global Ethernet test equipment market.

ethernetconnNew analysis from Frost & Sullivan,  High Growth Testing Opportunity: Global Ethernet Test Equipment Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $822.5 million in 2011 and estimates this to reach €905.2m ($1225.7 m) in 2016. The 1 GbE, 10 GbE and 40/100 GbE test equipment segments are expected to grow at single, double and triple digit rates, respectively.

Modern datacentre technologies including virtualisation, converged datacentre networks and cloud computing are changing the designs of traditional datacentres. These newer designs require higher bandwidth; 40/100 GbE equipment is better suited to the core and aggregation layers.

“With constantly evolving processor performance, it is anticipated that the 40/100 GbE interfaces will become the default requirement,” noted Frost & Sullivan Measurement & Instrumentation Industry Analyst Prathima Bommakanti. “This has led to a corresponding demand for 40/100 GbE test equipment.”

End-user demand for high density test equipment is considered both a driver and a challenge for Ethernet test equipment vendors. While it offers immense growth opportunities, test vendors are constantly being challenged to keep their products aligned with the market’s emerging functional test requirements – such as Layer4 wire-speed TCP/IP testing, Y.1564, 1588v2/SYNC, and IPv6 – even while continuing to provide value for money.

As technology improves and port count increases, end users are becoming accustomed to purchasing test solutions with greater capabilities across a range of technologies. Equipment prices have steadily fallen over the last few years even as end users have been pressured to create efficiencies and reduce unnecessary expenditure.

“The increasing complexity of protocols and the concurrent development of different standards call for Ethernet test equipment with greater testing capabilities,” remarked Bommakanti. “However, as protocols become more difficult to comply with, it will be a greater challenge for the test equipment to provide the desired results.”

Market prospects will be boosted by continued efforts by manufacturers to overcome the glitches inherent in advanced technologies and to offer competitive products. Rapidly evolving end-user technologies will motivate test vendors to focus on R&D and product introductions that best address customer needs.


Advanced metering market

24/01/2013
Advanced Metering Infrastructure Market to Grow at Fast Rate, States Frost & Sullivan. Revenues expected to triple – Massive opportunities for communication systems and network, meter data management (MDM), customer and programme data management

SmartMetersLegislation and standardisation are set to catalyse the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) market in Europe. Market participants are working towards standardisation and fulfilling regulatory requirements for the development of smart meters and AMI to begin mass rollouts. In Ireland we are faced with metering of domestic water supply in the short term future for instance.

New analysis from Frost & SullivanEuropean Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Market, finds that the AMI revenue in Europe is expected to grow from €85m ($1.13b) in 2011 to €2.8b ($3.72b) in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.9%. The research covers smart meters, installation, communication systems and network, meter data management (MDM) and customer and programme data management.

“Emerging smart grid technologies, which support enhanced energy management, will boost the installation of AMI in Europe,” noted Frost & Sullivan Energy & Power Supplies Research Analyst Neha Vikash. “The market is expected to witness higher growth not only in smart meters and the installation segments, but also in communications networks, MDM, customer and programme data management segments as well.” Most companies in the AMI space are not just the hardware (meter) providers. They combine them with important services and appropriate functionalities in communication infrastructure and data management. These are the key technologies for the deployment of innovative solutions. Installation of hardware does not generate a constant stream of revenue.

Despite its obvious benefits, smart meter implementation reveals regional disparities. Market growth has been faster in Western and Northern Europe. The lack of regulatory drive and utility implementations has affected installation rates in Central and Eastern Europe. It is expected that the smart metering activity in the CEE region will follow the Western European knowledge wave and experience. “It is also expected that once large scale roll out activity begins in Central and Eastern Europe, the pace of implementation will be faster compared to that of Western Europe,” concluded Vikash. “Regulatory approval, along with increased competition, aging infrastructure, and new technology will continue to drive investments in advanced metering and intelligent grid technologies.”

Nevertheless, EU member states that lack the regulatory push for deployment will experience large-scale implementation after 2015, as they have to comply with the EU’s Third Energy Directive, or pay a high penalty fee.

“AMI is an important step towards achieving the EU 20-20-20 goal which states that by 2020, 80 per cent of households must have smart meters and complete rollout achieved by 2022,” elaborated Vikash. “Government mandates will, therefore, be a key driver for AMI deployment.”

In addition to legislation, the lack of communication standards and security issues also play a major role in determining market prospects. In fact, data security is an issue among all member states, but it is of higher importance in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. This has resulted in a delay in smart meter roll out plans by utilities.

“Standardisation is likely to affect future smart meter sales, development and innovation,” concluded Vikash. “Meters complying with security requirements as per the standardisation mandate as well as satisfying regional legislative security requirements are likely to encourage customers to adopt smart meters.”


Stats and figures! How the Signpost fared in 2012!

03/01/2013
Comments, figures and observations at the start of 2013!

The end of the year is the time we look back and forward and we have had a brief look at some of the figures shown at our various sites.

Happy New Year!

Vale atque ave!

Our blogsites showed the most spectacular growth. We started in March 2009 when we had 67 visitors and by the end of the year almost 3,000 had visited them By the end of the current year  the figure will top 146000.

Our main page showed steady interest but little growth and has remained stable over the past three years. Nonetheless more people use this as a jump-off point to the blogs and other links we feature and the site is updated regularly. The complete archive of the site is also maintained with monthly updates.

Popular Pages
We have had some surprises in which pages proved popular. Alway high on the list after the home page is our acronym page. But this year this was exceeded by our Blogs/Discussion Groups’ Page. This probably reflects the growing trend of interactivity on the internet. In fact the most full list of Automation Blogs is on the left-hand column of our InstSignpost blog.

Stories
The, to us, most surprising stat this year is the popularity of our story on preserving wine, published last May. It topped the most popular stories list on three separate months and accounts for just over 4% of our visitors. We had come across this method in one of our favourite restaurants in Clifden, Conamara. A second popular story which surprised us was a Frost & Sullivan story on Test Equipment in the CIS, which was actually published in December of 2011. This story has consistently been in the top most popular stories throughout the year. We were a little disappointed that our page on ICS & SCADA Security, which is primarily a compilation of links to various articles since Stuxnet was discovered in 2009 – the page was set up in May so may not have had a chance to “catch up” on the more popular pages.

Treatment of comments, trash or spam?
We receive quite a lot of comments which are simply attempts at advertising or simply honest-to-God spam. These are always trashed and sometimes reported as spam if appropriate. If anybody wishes to advertise, or publicise automation products we welcome relevant product, company people and technology news – news on Automation or Test & Measurement and allied topics. Below is an example of the type of message. Maybe the sender “savored every little bit of it,” but we feel that this enthusiasm might perhaps be a little over the top when we are talking about Stuxnet and her children!

Genuine comment?

Genuine comment?

Social Media

During the year twitter stopped automatically linking our posts to Linked in so we started a LinkedIn Read-out Group where we post some of our stories which can be automatically linked to our twitter page. This is in addition to our Facebook Page where each and every story is listed. The facebook page is now followed by 200 people. We have 620 connections on LinkedIn .  Twitter is an important resource for us. We have learned several important events and trends from twitter like the discovery of the Stuxnet, the first malware directed at the automation sector. We have something like 600 followers on that platform. We also share other material on twitter to do with our other interests mostly with Irish topics, language and “dúchas”.(sometimes translated as “culture” but perhaps more accuratly understood as the “innate quality of national identity!”)

How reliable are these figures?
We have always treated these figure with some scepticism as we pointed out in an article in 2011 – Lies, damn lies and statistics! They have a limited use as guide, perhaps a comfort, that the work put into maintaining our internet presence is at least looked at and is presumably and hopefully useful  to some of those who visit.

We look forward to welcoming you to our pages during 2013.

Most popular pages


Home page 53%
Blogs/Discussion Groups 8%
Acronyms Page 6%
News Page 5%
What’s best for preserving wine: Vacuum or Pressure? 4%
Events Page 3%
Welcome/Fáilte 3%
Test equipment in CIS region 3%
Fieldbus Page 3%
Education & Training Page 2%
Delivering operational excellence forum 1%
Static earthing protection for road tankers 1%
Radar level measurement best practice 1%
New Test + Measurement catalogue 1%
Developing a 3D Optical surface profilometer 1%
Wireless strain gauge sensors 1%

Our visitors came from:

Vistor locations!

Visitor locations!


United States 53.0%
Great Britain 8.4%
Germany 7.5%
India 6.6%
France 4.7%
Norway 4.6%
Russia 4.4%
Ireland 2.8%
Netherlands 1.4%
Republic of Korea (South) 1.1%
Canada 0.6%
Australia 0.5%
Brazil 0.5%

• Note that the figure for the US is probably exagerated as a lot of .com IDs are included here and not all are located in the USA.


Developing economies’ growth fuels DCS market in Asia.

31/12/2012

The major growth in Distributed Control Systems (DCS) revenues continues to come from developing nations. Growth in countries such as India and China is conspicuous because of sluggish growth rates in other regions of the world. While developed nations are just holding their own (at best) in DCS investments, in developing countries, several recent trends are becoming increasingly important for success in the DCS business. These two countries are undergoing rapid growth and industrialization in Asia. At the time of this report, however, China’s growth is slowing. Even with a slowdown in China, Asia remains a leading growth engine for the global DCS marketplace, representing almost 35 percent of the world market.

ARC expects the top five growth industries in Asia to be oil & gas, mining & metals, cement & glass, water & wastewater, and electric power, in that order, with associated increases in DCS revenues. The growth of these industries is expected to be above average. Demand for oil will continue to increase in the long term despite short-term demand shortfalls. Oil exploration and production is taking the industry into increasingly remote and hostile regions, increasing demand for remote operations and subsea production. The power industry is also growing at a healthy rate over the forecast period. Developing economies, such as India and China, continue to invest in new power capacities and world-class power generation facilities. While pent up demand for mining & metals and cement & glass investments caused sizeable increases from 2010 to 2011, the growth is expected to return to a more moderate level over the forecast period.

ARC Foresees the Robust Growth of DCS in Asia
graph-distributed-control-systems-india-crAccording to ARC Advisory Group’s research, the total distributed control systems market in Asia will exceed $6,300 million in 2016. ARC’s latest study, “Distributed Control Systems for Asia Market Research Study” provides an in-depth analysis of the DCS business in Asia. In addition to market analysis and forecasts, the study also covers the current market nuances, strategic issues, and the future outlook. The report also highlights the factors that influence the DCS market in Asia and its dynamics.

G. Ganapathiraman, Country Manager, ARC Advisory Group, India and co-author of this study says, “The trends that drive the DCS business in Asia vastly differ from those in developed nations. Due to the economic growth in China and India along with the other BRIC countries, investments in infrastructure, oil and gas production, and in refining are rising, leading to increased demand for DCS.”

In 2011, ARC saw a much larger increase in revenue over 2010 than previously anticipated. The order book started improving at the end of 2009 and was quite strong throughout 2010 and the first half of 2011. Because the DCS business is primarily project based with an average nine month lag time from order book to recognized revenue, this strong order book translated into an excellent revenue year for 2011 with Asia’s revenue up over 4.5 percent from 2010.


British robot best ever year forecast

26/07/2012

If it wasn’t impressive enough with sales of robots from January to March 2012 outstripping sales in any other quarter to date, then sales for the first two quarters have now exceeded all previous full year sales on record!

In the first quarter robot sales of 923 units were recorded which is larger than the annual total for many of the previous years. The second quarter brought this figure to 2000 for the half year end.  However, automotive and automotive component orders contributed 85% of this figure in the first quarter and 89% of the sales in the second. This trend appears to be continuing, at least in the short term. Whilst in most other sectors robot sales are increasing, the growth still remains sluggish and in some sectors in sporadic decline.

Mike Wilson, British Automation and Robot Association Chairman said “whilst we welcome the level of robot orders from the automotive sector largely driven by product demand in global emerging markets, it is a real concern that other sectors are still not understanding the potential implications of not automating. Other countries such as China, Germany and most of the major European manufacturing nations are investing heavily in automation to sustain competitive advantage. Part of the problem in the UK is a short term approach and the perception that the pay back period is longer than it often is”.

Allen Green Managing Director of A K Industries who recently completed the free government automating manufacturing review, available to all British manufacturers said “we have recently had our automation review carried out on site and we have found this very useful.  The automation expert has highlighted several areas that we could cost effectively automate and the pay back period is a lot shorter than we had thought. We are pleased that the government is prepared to help UK manufacturing take the next steps in remaining competitive in an ever increasingly global market place. We have just completed our first 6-axis robotic cell”.

Automating Manufacturing
The British government’s drive to automate  manufacturing is going extremely well according to Grant Collier, Head of Marketing for the PPMA Group of Associations managing the programme “over 220 manufacturers around the UK have taken up the Government funded Automating Manufacturing Programme which shows manufacturers how they can benefit from automation.” Applications to date have come from a wide range of industries, including over one third from the food sector which is surprising since this has traditionally been an area very slow to adopt automation. He added, “the initial review is fully funded by the UK government with no obligation to take it further, the application process is simple, all companies should be looking at this as a route to improve their manufacturing operations”.


Photoelectric sensors collapse and rebound!

23/07/2012
Market for photoelectric sensors faces increasing demand for smart sensors and price pressure

The market for photoelectric sensors experienced a collapse and a dramatic rebound in the last three years.  The market is now back to the development behavior that we have seen in the past.  As the market is strongly dependent on the investment climate, the situation has recently worsened, but ARC still expects a rather positive development for the coming years.

The market for smart sensing in the area of photoelectric sensors refers to all sensors that expand the traditional capabilities of fixed measuring and switching.

“Photoelectric sensors have long been in a position in which there was simply no alternative, but now ultrasonic sensors as well as low-end vision sensors are targeting the same applications.  While photoelectric sensors are still price competitive, they also add value for end users with more functions,” says ARC Analyst Florian Güldner, the principal author of ARC’s Photoelectric Sensors Worldwide Outlook

Dependency on Investment Cycles Challenges Suppliers
The demand for sensing is increasing with overall demand for sensors rising faster than for industrial automation in general.  Still, the investment climate overshadows technological effects and trends from the plant floor.  Growth in photoelectric sensors is directly linked to the business cycle.

Automation demand is often supported by the spare parts business, modernization projects, and longer project lead times.  But sensor suppliers cannot count on these dynamics.  In contrast, the relatively high share of sales through distributors emphasizes the effects from investment as distributors empty/fill up their stocks at the beginning of a development.

Flexibility and the willingness to diversify are key characteristics of successful sensor suppliers.  Many are adopting a more solution-oriented business model targeted at measurement, quality control, or safety applications.

Is Smart Sensing a Benefit for the End User?
Smart sensors make the lives of machine builders easier as they reduce the number of suppliers and parts, and help to reduce engineering time.  Smart sensing includes photoelectric sensors, that can self-adjust to the environment, can be configured remotely, can house more than one sensing technology (light barrier, diffuse etc.), can be used for measuring and switching, and that help to detect errors such as a dirty lens or a broken cable.

With all these capabilities, sensors can help to make machines more flexible, shorten changeover times, and minimize planned and unplanned downtime.  Whether or not photoelectric sensors are smart is only important if there is the right connection to the rest of the automation architecture.  Here IO–Link offers a good solution.   However, the acceptance and awareness of IO-Link is still limited.  With technologies like IO-Link, photoelectric sensors are becoming part of the automation hierarchy.

Will Asia Help Suppliers Form Established Economies?
Asia is the fastest growing region in our study.  However, some trends are dampening the impact on sensor suppliers — locally produced machinery is often simple and requires limited, simple, and cheap switches.  Local producers that serve a large portion of the market, especially in China, are forced to focus on high volume, small margin sensors.

Sensor suppliers that focus on direct sales sometimes have difficulty in the Chinese market as the market is primarily served by distributors and thus the companies need to re-think their go to market strategy.  This can also impact their way of doing business because it is solution focused and based on close customer relationships.  These companies benefit from global end user customers that also produce in China, but have also adapted to the new market.

Profiles for the major suppliers for this market are included in this report.  Each profile reviews the company’s business, products, and services as it applies to this market.  Suppliers profiled include Balluff, Banner Engineering, Baumer Electric, Contrinex, Keyence, Leuze, OMRON, Pepperl+Fuchs, Rockwell Automation/Allen Bradley, Schneider Electric, SICK, Sunx, Yamatake.


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