World news: August 2012
Demand for integrated systems helps to drive servo and stepper sales
Demand for servo and stepper systems in Europe is rising, driven by factors such as their easier installation, higher efficiencies, smaller sizes and the move towards decentralised motor drives. A new analysis by Frost & Sullivan finds that the European market delivered revenues worth more than €1,620m in 2010, and will exceed €3,385m by 2017.
Increasing investments in end-user segments such as automotive, industrial automation and packaging, will enhance the growth prospects of the servo and stepper market, it adds. End-user needs for customised and energy-efficient products are also creating a demand for integrated systems.
F&S expects enhanced servo and stepper functions to expand their range of applications, in turn boosting revenues. The benefits of integrated servo and stepper systems – such as networking capabilities and application-oriented programming – will underpin market growth in the period to 2017.
“The major challenge faced by manufacturers will be to provide integrated package solutions for servo systems,” says Frost & Sullivan research analyst, Raaj Thilak Raveendran. “Integrated solutions can be used directly for specific applications. This is a challenge for both end-users and OEMs, since they have to find the best fit for existing servo motors and drives.”
Servo systems generate significantly more revenue than stepper systems. This is due to their lower costs and ability to provide greater control and accuracy. Industrial automation and the automotive sector are the biggest users of both servo and stepper systems, accounting for almost 40% of market revenues.
Although servo system efficiencies are already high, F&S suggests that they could be improved further by integrating drives and motors, thus also reducing wiring requirements.
Conventional AC motors and drives still offer cost advantages over servo systems in many applications. “AC motors and drives are accepted in all industrial areas, due to their capabilities and comparatively lower price than servo systems,” remarks Raveendran. “Manufacturers who are shifting from pneumatic and hydraulic systems will look at the cost factor, so AC motors and drives will be preferred over servo systems in some applications.”
Tier 3 servo and stepper manufacturers are moving towards integrated technologies to focus better on specific end-user segments and applications. This will push them into direct competition with tier 1 suppliers and could reduce market concentration over the long term, while underlining the importance of continued investments in new product development.