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Low-cost linear actuators hit traditional suppliers

31 July, 2007

Low-cost, pre-assembled linear motion components, mostly from Asian suppliers, are putting pressure on traditional suppliers, according to a new report.

Many component suppliers are now marketing actuators designed with a single U-shaped guide, which can be up to 40% cheaper than the traditional double guided products offered by most dedicated pre-assembled suppliers, says the report, drawn up by IMS Research. This is making it increasingly difficult for actuator suppliers to remain competitive, it warns. While this trend is noticeable in Europe, its effects are most evident in the more price-sensitive Americas market.

"In 2003, linear motion component manufacturers, such as THK, accounted for approximately one-tenth of the Americas pre-assembled rodless actuator market," says IMS analyst, Robert Carter. "However, by 2005 this share had increased to nearly a quarter of the total market. This highlights the success that component manufacturers are having in addressing the market for low-cost linear actuation.

"Currently the competitive pressures introduced by these companies are more prevalent in a variety of low-end applications such as materials handling," Carter adds. "However, as low-functionality automation continues to increase in a wide range of industries, component manufacturers are expected to further increase their share of the actuator market. This will encourage more dedicated suppliers of pre-assembled products to focus on high-end industries and applications requiring complete linear motion solutions, in order to protect their business."

IMS says that the market for pre-assembled rodless actuators is growing faster than that for linear motion components in both Europe and Americas, with suppliers that traditionally manufactured components gaining market share.

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