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China’s Motion Control Market Potential

By Wang Mingde
Published: Apr 01,2016

In recent years, China’s consumer products have been rapidly changing. In addition to a continual increase in the amount of products, there has been a gradual increase in the development of high-level quality products.

With this state of affairs, the Chinese market’s demand for high-level automatic equipment has increased, and currently high-level medical equipment, machine tools, automatic textile machinery, high precision printing machinery, and secret electronic processing equipment are in high demand. In addition, while these types of markets are predominantly controlled by European, American, and Japanese companies, in the domain of motion control, this is not the case.

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As for low-level equipment, compared to high-level products, there are more types of markets and more companies. However, for mid-level and low-level equipment, cost-effectiveness is often the first consideration. Compared to manufacturers of high-level imported products, these manufacturers are more sensitive about cost, and there are more drastic changes in demand. Of course when faced with competition from international brands, Chinese manufacturers of motion control products have the advantage of low costs and the recognition of low-level market users.

With the trend of European and American companies’ product strategies and the depreciation of the Yen leading to new lows in the purchasing prices of Japanese products, Taiwanese companies have the same advantages that they enjoyed in the past.

However, in recent years large international companies have been expanding their product lines and have gradually invested in low-level products. Consequently, Chinese motion control companies are experiencing competitive pressures, and in addition to Chinese companies, the large international companies’ strategy of developing low-value products is also putting the squeeze of Taiwanese companies.

From the perspective of industry links, motion control technology is the key technology in the automation and shift to smart technologies for mechanical equipment. Furthermore, Numerical Control (NC) systems are the core components of numerical control machine tools, and in the global automation industries, European, North American, and Japanese companies have a firm grasp of the key technologies.

Unable to gain footholds in related technologies, local Chinese companies must carry out their own research and development. In addition, China has long had low labor costs, and this has caused automation technologies to catch on more slowly. Even the current motion control technologies have experienced limited progress, and this is especially true of digitally controlled machine tools, plastic injection molding machinery, textile machinery, packaging machinery, electronic manufacturing equipment, and industrial robot arms. Compared to foreign companies, these technologies are still behind in terms of their degree of automation, accuracy, efficiency, stability, and integration.

Figure 1: The motion control technology has been customized, intelligence, network-oriented development. (Source: cimpl)
Figure 1: The motion control technology has been customized, intelligence, network-oriented development. (Source: cimpl)

Throughout the trends in technological development, motion control technology is already developing in the direction of customization, smart technology, and networking, and China has not yet entered this stage of stand-alone automation.

However, in recent years, Chinese motion control industries have begun to invest in the research and development of high-level equipment. In particular, in the equipment manufacturing industry in recent years, industries have begun to emerge from the traditional big industries and do depth development for application segments. The original universal types of motion control products are less and less capable of meeting the requirements of specialized industries.

Moreover, customized motion control requirements are gradually increasing for technologies such as motion control for image-specific servers and motion control for movement-specific servers. In accordance with the requirements of user applications, customized reconstruction is being carried out and the design of customized motion control machinery has already become an important direction for market applications.

Typical motion control systems are mainly composed of motion components, transmitters, actuators, drivers, and motion control machinery. The motion instructions for the whole system are dispatched by the motion control machinery; therefore, the motion control machinery functions as the soul of the overall motion control system.

Users must use universal type motion control machinery which provides standard functions to carry out secondary development. However, application systems are developed with their own system integration and industry experience in accordance with the special characteristics of the applications system and functions related to the application motion control machinery.

At the same time, users must still understand the other components that comprise motion control systems and must guarantee that machine systems are completely equipped before they can assemble high-quality motion control systems. With this trend, Chinese motion control product suppliers have already begun trying to launch specialized machines for use in vertical markets, for example, carving and engraving equipment, laser cutting, plasma cutting machines, electronics manufacturing equipment, printing machines, and textile machinery domains.

In addition, because the majority of machine equipment manufacturers in China do not have secondary development for specialized motion control systems, upstream systems providers are expected to provide technical support to customers with their sales products.

Compared to large international companies, Chinese equipment providers have an obvious geographical advantage. Traditional foreign brand name companies are subject to regional, operating cost, and business strategy influences. In China although there is a dense layout of technical services, overall, it is still difficult to reach levels of efficiency that are comparable to other manufacturers. In addition, there are expensive fees, and it is difficult to satisfy the requirements of downstream industries. In comparison, Chinese motion control product providers have an advantageous position in this sector.

Figure 2: Motion control is an important technology in the machinery manufacturing industry instead of doing so, to create a standardized, high-quality production process, a substantial increase in labor productivity. (Source: CAEngineering)
Figure 2: Motion control is an important technology in the machinery manufacturing industry instead of doing so, to create a standardized, high-quality production process, a substantial increase in labor productivity. (Source: CAEngineering)

In terms of the overall trends, Chinese motion control development is gradually in step with other advanced countries with high-speed, high-precision, network development, and especially NC machine tools. Application industries, such as precision electronics manufacturing equipment, continue to drive motion control technology towards high-speed and high-precision development. Meanwhile, computer technology, new sensors, and new motor driver technologies have become the foundations for motion control technology.

Several years of rapid development have enabled China to become the world’s manufacturing center. However, with the continual rise of labor costs, China’s advantage in labor-intensive manufacturing will continue to weaken. Consequently, the need for developing technology-intensive industries, increasing labor productivity, and industrial restructuring has already become a community consensus.

In the process of China’s transition from a manufacturing country to a manufacturing powerhouse, the manufacturing industry is integrating with information technology, and this is the key to transforming traditional manufacturing into modern manufacturing industries.

Motion control is an important technology for the replacement of human labor with robots in manufacturing, creating standards, high-quality manufacturing processes, and substantial increases in labor productivity. With the strengthened integration of this technological development with downstream traditional manufacturing, the market demand for related technologies and products will experience abundant growth, and it will become an important market for the global automation industry.

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