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Rebounding motion control market heads for a new peak

17 December, 2014

After declining for two years, global revenues from motion-control products have bounced back, growing by more than 6% in 2014 to reach $12.2bn, according to a new study from IHS. However, this still leaves the market about 4% below its peak, which it reached in 2011 following two years of 20%-plus growth.

IHS predicts that the market will expand by a further 6.7% in 2015, to reach $13.1bn. This would represent a new record high, exceeding the 2011 peak by 2.4%.

The IHS report covers servomotors, servodrives, and position control hardware for general motion control (GMC) and computer numerical control (CNC) applications, but excludes DC brushless motors.

In 2012, this market was hit by the poor economic situation in the Eurozone, a weak semiconductor market in Japan and the fallout from overproduction in China, causing global revenues to plummet by 7.8 %.

Revenues dropped again in 2013, although the rate of decline slowed to 2.3%. In terms of unit sales, the market actually grew by 4.1%, but its growth in US dollars was held back by the weakening of the Japanese Yen, because Japan accounted for more than 16% of the motion control market in 2013. Sales were also affected by limited demand in the machine tools and semiconductor sectors, which together accounted for more than 45% of revenues in 2013.

Regional motion control revenues for 2013 ($m, left axis) and growth for 2014 (%, right axis)
Source: IHS

According to IHS, 2014 has been marked by accelerating growth in global machinery production, and particularly strong growth in Japan, fuelled by machine tool production and sectors related to the production of smartphones and vehicles – such as electronics assembly, semiconductor machinery, and robotics.

In the Eurozone, motion-control suppliers reported a strong first-half for 2014, while the US market has been boosted by a strong recovery in the semiconductor sector. Asian motion control sales for 2014 are expected to exceed 2011 levels, following a second year of strong growth, although the Asian CNC market continues to be affected by overcapacity issues in China.

•  Another new report, from the US-based Motion Control Association (MCA), says that global shipments of motion control products grew by 9% in the first nine months of 2014, to reach $2.3bn. The MCA’s definition of the market is different from that used by IHS and includes AC motors which, it says, grew by 59% in the first nine months. In the same period, sales of motion controllers grew by 36%, and actuators and mechanical systems by 20%. The MCA also says that a survey of motion control manufacturers has revealed that 59% expect shipments to remain flat for the next six months, while 38% expect the market to grow, and 3% expect it to contract.

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