Topics: Is the Automation industry growing?
Is the Automation industry growing?
in Canada or the US?
08-30-2013 09:26 PM
It depends where you live, there are reports that industry is on the rebound in different areas. The area that you specialize in will determine what area you need to relocate to. Because of the crash of 2009-2010 we all got hit hard. A number of old timers like me let and went into safe comfort jobs and with the schools spitting out the next generation. The industry is taking advantage of the rebound. So to answer your question, in the sense of availability of work, Yes. But you must travel or relocate to take advantage of its growth.
In the aspect of hardware, we are headed more and more to PC application and the users are resistant because the skill set to migrate us into the next generation of Automation is not there. Yes, we have young eager people to do the job, but there is limited experience to show them the ropes and direct them because the old guard just doesn't know the new architecture. For some of us the were there it was like when we took the software into the Windows generation from Dos.
08-30-2013 09:27 PM
I agree with Scott. I think the automation industry is growing but in places it hasn't been popular before. I noticed more and more smaller companies popping up, especially across the mid-west US. This growth will stagnate if people aren't willing to migrate to where the work is.
I also think there will be a trend to bring automation back to Canada and the US from overseas. The benefits to outsourcing is reversing and that will create opportunities that I think will be hard to fill because our schools stopped apprenticeship programs when the business sector started farming out the work to overseas firms.
08-30-2013 09:28 PM
Working for a hardware company that provide embedded processor module to the industrial automation industry, I see the automation industry is growing in North America region among mid and smaller size company, and smaller division within a larger organization. Many new projects we see incorporate x86 processor based controllers and utilize application development resources from the PC marketplace.
While the shift is not obvious, as cost of living increase in some of the overseas market along with the economic and political conditions in US, viable conditions are created in some regions across US which help revise some of the existing industry and creating new one.
08-30-2013 09:28 PM
There are several things going on here.
The overall automation hardware market shrank in the 2008 recession. There was growth in the BRIC countries which offset some of the contraction in the West. Now many areas, except maybe Europe, are growing again. But, we have cheaper automation hardware products, so although the potential market for these products is growing, the $ value isn't growing overall as much if at all. Some industries, such as Oil & Gas, are bucking the trend, but the Oil & Gas industry is unlike many others as it is prepared to pay much more for automation systems that provide high availability.
Automation software has stayed fairly bouyant, led by cost savings at the enterprise level as automation was integrated with business systems. This integration has led to growth in Historians, HMI/SCADA and MES and related software and I think growth will continue here as more manufacturers realise the benefits this integration can bring.
Services haven't grown much, partly due to outsourcing but also due to the contraction of many industries and reductions in the number of projects caused by the recession. I think services will grow over the next few years as companies realise they have to upgrade aging systems and bring services back to their own countries rather than trying to outsource everything.
I agree with the points above about the changing nature of automation, I think we will see many older engineers retire soon (the average age in the industry in the west is about mid-50s) and this will leave a gap for new, younger engineers to come in and change the way automation is performed with more PC-based technology.
Overall there will be growth in the industry, more so in software and services rather than automation hardware. Growth will be aided by a resurgence in US manufacturing and the need to replace aging systems.
08-30-2013 09:29 PM
This is somewhat of a loaded question, but I will attempt to give you my perspective on the matter. The automation marketplace is very tightly linked to two factors, new product development and localization of manufacturing. The Automation community here in North America has had flat and/or very minor growth for the past 15 years and this trend will continue.
From what I have seen in the industry for the last ten years, the automation community here in North America has shrunk, due to a large influx of manufacturing to low labor rate economies. When comparing the total cost of a product, the amount of upfront capital investment in automation, versus shipping the manufacturing offshore and dealing with higher inventories and shipping, didn't justify the effort. It is only in the past two years that we are starting to see a return of manufacturing projects to the US and Canada (and even Mexico). These projects are coming back as a result of increasing labor rates in developing economies that have absorbed our manufacturing and with the increase in oil prices, the higher costs of shipping products around the world.
In parallel there has been a effort in offshore manufacturing to start driving automation into their factories, to offset increasing wage pressure. We are seeing more and more automation projects coming from our engineering colleagues in China, India and Brazil. Now this is creating pressure not only on the manufacturing of products, but on where the eqiupment to build these products is designed. Mold Tooling is a perfect example. In the past five years 85% of the mold tooling that I've been involved with has been manufactured in Asia. Another example is Rockwell Automation. They have predominately been a North American supplier of Control Solutions. They are the 800 pound gorilla in North America. Sales outside of North America now account for 25% of their revenue. They are growing fastest in markets where home grown Automation is being developed and even sold back here into North America.
These trends will continue as we push on how to sell products into markets that were not classically throught of as profitable. We will be competing with companies in China, India, Brazil, Russia, etc, for automating production in Indonesia, Kenya, Argentina, Chile and other developing markets. Welcome to the global economy.