The world market for discrete machine-safety components was estimated to be worth $3.4 billion in 2012. The American market accounted for 21% and Asia 20%. The remaining 59% of 2012 revenues were accounted for by sales in EMEA.
Overall industrial growth in Asia is higher than that of the American market, as has been the case for a number of years. Machine-safety in Asia is also playing catch-up. As such, machine-safety revenues are projected to grow more quickly at 12.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to 2017 versus 6.8% CAGR for the American market. This means that Asia is forecast to surpass the Americas during 2014 to become the second largest regional discrete machine-safety component market.
This market is largely driven by China and the emerging economies in the region which are becoming more conscious of safety in the industrialised workplace.
Price pressure and a lack of safety directives means Asia can be a tough market to penetrate. However, influence from multi-national companies, as well as realisation from local end-users that safety is linked to productivity, mean more machine builders are utilising safety components more often, boosting the market potential. Regardless of the greater realisations of the benefits of safety, it is still seen as an unnecessary expense by some. Therefore, simpler and cheaper safety components are still more preferable in Asia. Indeed safety relays, basic interlock switches, and type 2 light curtains are estimated to be considerably more common than their more complex equivalents. Safety standards are not yet established in countries like China, but they are on their way, it seems likely they will be based on European standards, which is beneficial for European vendors operating in Asia. They are less likely to need to modify their product range. If these standards come to fruition, it will mean a huge boost for the safety component market in Asia.
Safety relays offer the lowest cost form of controlling safety and Japan aside, Asia revenues are projected to grow considerably quicker than those of configurable safety modules and safety PLCs. Japan is a much more mature market, in-line with the western world, and as such, higher-end safety equipment is more common. However, this does not boost the market considerably as the Japanese economy remains quite flat.
Globally, safety component revenue growth is forecast to continue to grow above that of industrial growth. The realisation of cost savings through integration of safety is evident. Reducing potential for accidents means less downtime and injuries, which improve productivity and reduce outlay. Overall the future is strong from safety components, and Asia is proving to be a large potential market.