Lean Automation Lean Automation New Trend – Embedded Solutions to Growth Nine Percent Annually
Embedded automation teminals are in line with the trend for lean automation solutions: The global revenues of operator terminals with embedded PLC hardware could rise from US $ 99 million in 2011, to approximately US $ 148 million in 2016, a new study by IMS Research (recently acquired by IHS). Projected annual growth rates of 9 percent and more should be enough to fire imaginations, the analysts believe.
The largest growth for these solutions is expected in Food, Beverage and Tobacco Machinery; Machine Tools and Packaging Machinery. Collectively, these sectors accounted for approximately 35 percent of sales revenues in 2011. The largest unit shipment growth is also forecast to come from the food and beverage machine builder sector, with annual shipments increasing by more than 5,000 between 2011 and 2016.
“Price and Footprint” – Principle Advantages of Lean Automation
Mark Watson, senior research analyst, comments “There are two principle advantages for OEMs using operator terminals with embedded PLC hardware: price and footprint. Every component has an associated cost and space requirement. By combining two systems into one, both factors are reduced. This enables further savings as the combined unit doesn’t require extra wiring to communicate between sub-systems and maintenance departments only need to support one product type.”
Trend Most Significant for Small Units
Watson continues, “That said, the advantage is most significant for small machines where price and space are at a premium. Manufacturers of larger machines typically have the space and the budget to adopt a traditional solution of separate operator terminal and PLC units. This solution also provides flexibility in terms of the component supplier of each unit and enables OEMs to cherry pick the most suitable two components for specific applications.”
Sales to Grow, Prices to Decrease – Challenge for Automation Suppliers
This operator terminal type is forecast strong revenue growth to 2016. However, average selling prices are projected to decrease by approximately 3 percent per annum to 2016. Leading suppliers of operator terminals with embedded PLC hardware, such as Pro-Face, Unitronics and Horner APG, will therefore have to work hard to maintain revenue growth as price pressure drives down selling prices over the next few years.