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Motion control market `can support niche suppliers and the big boys`

01 October, 2000

The motion control market is splitting between a handful of large, broad-based suppliers and many more small niche players targeting particular applications. But according to a new study of the global market for GMC (general motion controls), there is room for both groups of suppliers to co-exist.

The study, GMC Worldwide Outlook, by ARC, predicts that the motion control market will expand at an annual rate of around 7.5% in the four years to 2003.

As OEMs increasingly ship equipment around the world, motion control suppliers are having to follow suit, the report suggests. This is making the GMC business more global, with suppliers having to provide service and support worldwide.

This globalisation has led to increased competition and pricing pressures. So suppliers are having to look at every aspect of their businesses to find ways of cutting costs and combating eroding margins, says ARC. Some suppliers are hoping that electronic commerce will provide larger markets for them, the study adds.

Another trend is for GMC suppliers to provide applications solutions (rather than mere hardware) to add value to their business and to differentiate them from their rivals.

In terms of technology, ARC suggests that PC-based "soft" motion control is becoming a reality with the availability of hard real-time extensions to the Windows operating system. But, while some suppliers are building motion control functions into PCs, others are exploiting advances in DSP (digital signal processor) technology to integrate motion control functions and loop closures in "intelligent" drives. The ARC study suggests that there are roles for both approaches.

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