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Asia set to overtake Americas in machine-safety market

10 March, 2014

Asia will overtake the Americas this year to become the world’s second-largest regional market for machine-safety components, according to a new analysis by IHS.

It estimates that the global market for discrete machine-safety components was worth $3.4bn in 2012, with the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and  Africa) region accounting for 59% of sales, followed by the Americas on 21% and Asia on 20%. However, IHS predicts that machine-safety revenues are growing faster in Asia with a CAGR of 12.4% in the period to 2017, compared a 6.8% CAGR for the Americas.

The Asian market is being driven by China and by emerging economies in the region which are becoming more conscious of the need for safety in the workplace.

IHS says that price pressures and a lack of safety directives mean that Asia can be a tough market for machine safety suppliers to penetrate. However, influence from multinational companies, as well as realisation from local end-users that safety is linked to productivity, mean that machine-builders in the region are increasingly using safety technologies.

However, the analyst adds that some still see safety as an unnecessary expense. Asian buyers prefer simpler, cheaper safety components. Safety relays, basic interlock switches, and type 2 light curtains are much more common than more complex alternatives.

The global market for machine safety components showing total global revenues ($m, left axis) and regional growth rates (right axis)
Source: IHS

Although safety standards are not yet established in countries such as China, they are on their way, says IHS, and it seems likely that they will be based on European standards, which will be an advantage for European vendors operating in Asia. If these standards come to fruition, it will give a significant boost to the safety component market in Asia.

Safety relays offer the lowest-cost way for controlling safety and, Japan aside, Asian revenues for these components are expected to grow much faster than for configurable safety modules and safety PLCs. Japan is a more mature market, with Western world practices, and higher-end safety equipment is more common. However, this is not having a major affect on the market because the Japanese economy remains flat.

Globally, IHS expects safety component revenues to continue to grow faster than industrial growth in general. 

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