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The proximity sensor market tends to follow the business cycles and technology trends of the general automation market, particularly PLCs and PLC-based programmable automation controllers. Different global regions exhibit different development patterns. In recent years, growth in North America and Europe balanced a contraction in Asia where leading suppliers experienced weak performance and currency movements in the Japanese yen hurt revenues. The proximity sensor market grew only slightly in 2013 and, overall, remained at about the same level as in 2011.
"The automotive, machinery, and food & beverage industries account for over 60 percent of the total worldwide market. ARC believes that these industries will continue to exhibit above-average market growth throughout the forecast period," commented Stefan Miksch, principal author of the "Proximity Sensors Global Market Research Study".
Several major automation trends have had significant impact on the proximity sensor market. One of these is the increasing needs of end users and OEMs for the sensor-based data that provides the foundation for information-driven manufacturing. This is critical to help industrial organizations meet today’s challenges, including the need to increase efficiency and manufacturing flexibility; reduce energy and resource consumption; reduce emissions; and quickly onboard the next generation of workers.
Automotive: Most Important End User Industry
Automotive has become the most important end user industry for proximity sensors, and the strong growth will continue as capital investments in 2014 continue. These investments persist as a residual effect from the 2009 economic crisis, when investments were cut back by more than 30 or 40 percent. Also, the 2011 tsunami in Japan resulted in significant investments in automotive as Japanese auto companies build up factories in the US. Another reason is the strong development in emerging economies where big automotive companies are building new and highly automated manufacturing sites.
Manufacturing Reshoring in North America
The trend toward reshoring of manufacturing in North America is driving increasing automation investment in this region. Government initiatives to re-establish manufacturing in the US showed positive signs, and we expect this trend to continue. This also applies for Mexico.