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Motion control prices `have dropped by 80% in five years`

03 October, 2012

The prices of advanced motion controllers have fallen dramatically in Europe in recent years, according to a new report from the market analyst, Frost & Sullivan. The report predicts that revenues from advanced motion controls across Europe will rise from $340.5m in 2011 to $520.3m by 2018, but it adds that the significance of the UK market will decline as demand from the machine tools segment weakens.

According to the report, today’s controllers cost about one fifth of what systems with similar capabilities cost five years ago. It says that intense competition among controller manufacturers and the threat from other motion control devices, such as electric drives, continues to put downward pricing pressure on the advanced motion controls industry. In addition, the entry of low-cost Asian controllers into the European markets has reduced the profit margins of manufacturers in the region.
Frost & Sullivan expects a shift towards more precise methods of control to boost sales of motion controls. It adds that uptake across Europe is growing as potential users become more aware of advances in controller capabilities, their ease of use, and their ability to control multiple axes.

However, it adds that the high capital investments involved will hold back market growth over the next few years, which will be characterised by moderate variations in sales, rather than by sudden surges.

“The change from hydraulic and pneumatic control systems to electric and electromechanical ones – to achieve higher efficiency and precision across several key end-user industries – will underpin market growth,” says Frost & Sullivan research analyst, Raaj Thilak Raveendran. “Advanced application features in motion controllers – such as wireless communication, security, reliability and networking capabilities – are expected to enable their widespread use for controlling complex applications.”
Frost reports that Germany is the European leader in terms of revenues from advanced motion controllers, because it is home to some of the region’s leading suppliers and has a robust economy. Sales to the process industries will keep France in second position, while the Scandinavian market will also display strong growth. Italy will maintain its market share because there is a constant demand for its products from elsewhere in Europe.

But Raveendran expects the significance of the UK market to decline as demand for advanced motion controls from the machine tools segment weakens. “The persistently high value of the UK pound compounds this trend,” he adds, “as many OEMs have moved their bases to Eastern European countries to leverage the cost benefits.”

Exports of advanced motion controls from Europe have been hit by the deterioration of economic activities in the US and by poor demand in Japan, Frost reports. But, as European economies stabilise, it expects demand for these products to increase across all end-user segments after 2013.

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