Who Installs, Maintains, and Provides Training for Automatic Machine Safeguarding Equipment?

2/25/2003 - A report from Venture Development Corporation (VDC) titled "The U.S. Market for Machine Automatic Safeguarding Equipment" investigates the organizations providing installation, maintenance, and training for these applications.

The following types of equipment that provide safety protection for both personnel and machinery was investigated during this study:

These products are used with a variety of equipment including assembly, material handling, metalworking, packaging and robotic machinery, and in a wide range of industries including automotive, electronic components and products, food & beverage, paper converting, primary metals, and semiconductor.

Among the product classes the largest shipment levels are for the electronic safety sensors, and safety interlock switches. These accounted for about $143 million of a $196 million U.S. market in 2001, or 73%.

During this study, end users, OEMs and systems integrators were asked who installs their automatic machine safeguarding products. Figure 1 summarizes their responses. In all cases the results confirm vendor indications that, while they (reluctantly, VDC suspects) offer installation services either directly or through their distributors, the large majority of their customers install the equipment. Most vendors are pleased with this arrangement because of any legal liability issues that might arise. For the most part, they offer training, primary to their distributors, but also some to end users, on installation as well as operation and maintenance.

As with installation, Figure 2 shows that the large majority of the end users service their own automatic machine safeguarding equipment. Again, most vendors do not have the desire (legal liability issues again) or the resources to accomplish servicing of the equipment.

Some vendors do provide formalized safety training for their customers, which generally is conducted by their own staff. Typical topics covered include:

Many of the vendors offer seminars in safety training that are tailored to customer needs. Subjects covered include product overviews, safety regulations, risk assessment analysis, as well as specific product installation (wiring), operation, and maintenance.


Vendor Activity
There are indications some vendors will become more active in providing installation and maintenance in the future. Scientific Technologies, Inc. (STI), the largest supplier of the products under study to the U.S. market, is positioning itself to become a complete safety solutions provider. Through this complete safety solutions strategy STI hopes to better compete against the developing threat of complete automation solutions providers, such as Rockwell, Siemens, Schneider, Honeywell, and Omron. These major automation solutions providers already have organizations that can provide integration services, as required. Towards this goal, STI in 2001 acquired Dunn Sales Inc., a former STI distributor and systems integrator. Through them, STI now offers a wide range of services, including risk assessment, safety product recommendations, installation, and training.

At least one of the complete automation solutions providers, Rockwell, is actively promoting installation and maintenance capabilities. Others such as Schneider, Siemens, etc. also visualize their becoming more active in these.

Third Party Service Organizations
VDC set out in the study to interview third party organizations that provide services for automatic machine safeguarding equipment. Surprisingly, far fewer of these organizations of any size or reputation were found than had been anticipated. The organizations that were found are primarily “value added ” distributors or manufacturer’s representatives for automatic machine safeguarding products. Some also provide custom manual safety systems and related safety consulting services.

The principal services offered by these firms are the conducting of risk assessments and overall safety site audits. However, 60% also indicated they do installations, and 40% each servicing and training. It is expected that usage of these firms for these activities will grow.

VDC’s study "The U.S. Market for Machine Automatic Safeguarding Equipment" provides market sizes, segmentations, and forecasts for these products. These include segmentations and forecasts by consuming industries and applications as appropriate:

Industries - Appliance, Automotive, Electronic Components, Electronic Products, Food & Beverage, Paper Converting, Primary Metals, Semiconductor, Textile, and Other

Applications - Assembly, Material Handling, Metalworking, Packaging, Robotics, and Other

Other segmentations include channels of distribution, and the projected shipment shares of machine automatic safeguarding products with safety network/bus connections.

User (end user, OEM, and system integrator) interviewing, and a web survey provided insight into current and planned implementations. These include product and vendor selection criteria, key departments and personnel in selections, trade periodical sources of information on machine automatic safety products and vendors, and sources of installation and servicing for the equipment. In addition, the activities of third party service providers in the market are analyzed.

Vendor market shares are developed for all the product categories, and detailed profiles are given for 20 major vendors.

The efforts to “harmonize” international safety standards are analyzed, along with the likely impact on product designs.

Finally, based on the findings, VDC makes recommendations on how vendors can enhance their positions in these markets. Recommendations cover product types, product characteristics and features, product modifications to meet changing safety requirements, organizational changes to meet a changing marketplace, pricing, industry and application markets to target, channels of distribution, and promotion.

Venture Development Corporation is a technology research and management consulting firm serving the worldwide electronics industry. Founded in 1971 by graduates of the Harvard Business School and MIT, VDC offers in-depth market research, as well as custom strategic planning and consulting services in the areas of industrial automation, instrumentation, electronic components, computers and peripherals, communications, office equipment, and consumer electronics.

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