25 Jul 2024


Mature market for belts and chains faces ‘a serious threat’

The European market for chain and belt drives is well established, and its technology mature. The limited innovation and product differentiation in the sector, coupled with rapid advances in alternative technologies such as variable-speed drives, pose “a serious threat” to its future, says a new report from the market analyst Frost & Sullivan.

But the large installed base of belts and chains means that there is still a significant potential for replacement sales. “Trends are currently favouring complete solutions, starting from belt and chain selection, to installation and servicing,” says Frost & Sullivan power transmission research analyst, Ramasubramanian Natarajan. “This will provide significant opportunities for retrofitting and servicing.”

F&S reports that the European market for belts and chains earned revenues of $2.34bn in 2011, and predicts it will expand slowly to reach $2.53bn by 2018.

While there are unlikely to be any major product innovations in the sector, F&S reports that suppliers are continuing to strive for small design improvements that will enhance product performance, reliability, error-free operation and lifetime.

“Mechanical power transmission components are relatively inexpensive compared to direct-drive or variable-frequency drive technologies,” Natarajan points out. “Simplicity of design, together with ease of use and maintenance, has led to its widespread adoption across every possible industrial application.”

Targeting the right end-users with transmission systems designed specifically for their applications will strongly enhance the prospects for product sales, according to F&S. Custom-made designs will gain in popularity as well, it adds.