World news: May 2012
Survey identifies `mega-trends` affecting the automation market
The three key topics that will drive the industrial automation and process control market in 2012 and beyond will be: energy efficiency and sustainability; smart technologies; and the influence of the emerging economies, says a new report based on a survey of several hundred companies.
“Energy efficiency, advanced technology and geo-economics will transform the face of industrial automation in the future,” predicts Muthukumar Viswanathan, director for automation and process control at Frost & Sullivan, which conducted the survey. “Along with sustainability, these factors are set to influence product design, project cost and service capabilities of industrial automation vendors in the next-generation enterprise.”
The survey also looked more closely at the issues affecting key parts of the automation market and found that 71% of those surveyed believe that wind and solar energy are the “hottest topic” affecting the European drives and motors sector. The two “second hottest” topics were fan, pump and compressor applications, and the oil and gas industry.
On the three “mega-trends” affecting the automation sector, F&S found:
♦ Sustainability, in terms of energy and resource efficiency, will be a key ingredient for the success of the global manufacturing industry. The growing focus on the implementation of energy-efficient solutions in both process and discrete industries will also promote sustainable manufacturing. Energy efficiency concerns will dominate business in the electric motors market, with IE3 efficiencies becoming mandatory in 2015. According to F&S, the four major spheres of influence that will determine business models in future factories are: integrated enterprise ecosystems; sustainability, lifecycle assessments; and eco-efficiency analyses.
♦ Smart technologies. Factories of the future will be driven by trends such as cloud computing, cyber-security and mobile and wireless communication technologies. The need for higher productivity and greater efficiency will drive organisations to implement greater interaction between the factory-floor and the enterprise. This will also be achieved by leveraging automation technology to enable users to gain a competitive edge. Asset management and flexible manufacturing will also drive the integration of factories with the enterprise, with a high potential for automation and customised services in industrial applications.
♦ Emerging economies. The BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations and other emerging economies are likely to sustain high growth in industrial automation. F&S expects the strongest growth to come in the Middle East, South East Asia, and Eastern Europe. Opportunities connected with the modernisation of old infrastructure also exist in developed regions such as North America and Western Europe. In addition, flexible manufacturing will aid regional customisation by aligning product portfolios to suit market demands.