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Improved product quality, advanced equipment at a lower price than ever, and compliance with a myriad of standards affecting various industries across different countries: aren’t these the most significant demands of customers all over the world, irrespective of the industry and product type?
End users’ requirements for coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) are very much in line with these demands. As such, reliability, repeatability, service, quality and compliance with standards are factors taking on new and utmost importance in this industry.
A CMM Here and a CMM ThereDue to the sluggish market growth, prices of CMMs are declining. This contraction in prices and the resulting decrease in profit margins have forced manufacturers and suppliers to identify opportunities for growth. One such opportunity is the increasing demand for services offered with the equipment. They include the delivery, installation, and equipment operation and maintenance, which now constitute a valuable source of income for suppliers of CMMs.
However, with the recovery of the economy, manufacturers need to invest in new technologies to generate products that are better suited to end-user requirements. This will be no easy task though, due to a lack of adequate monetary resources. Manufacturers are looking to build CMMs that are more reliable, efficient and suitable to various types of end users, which require significant R&D investments.
CMM manufacturers need to provide products that are on par with the industry’s requirements in terms of price and quality. While they have always faced intense price competition from low-cost imports of Asian origin, such competition is expected to increase further in the future due to the price sensitivity of global end users and the increasing quality of the products being introduced in the market by Asian manufacturers.
Competitive FactorsThe world CMM market is dominated by a few large companies, which have operations in most of the key geographic regions. The top four companies control more than 75% of the total market. This is significant challenge for smaller regional companies, as well as entry barriers for potential new entrants. While this is a challenge from a competitive standpoint, this also may lead to stagnation in terms of the overall market growth and technology improvements.
Key market participants in the world CMM market include Hexagon Metrology, Carl Zeiss IMT, Faro Technologies, Mitutoyo Corp., Wenzel, Metris, Mora, Stiefelmeyer, ITP Group, Tarus, Helmel, Trimek, Dukin, and Accurate and International Metrology Systems.
The CMM market is a large one, not just from a revenue perspective but also from the standpoint of the number of competitors actively involved in this industry. Competitive factors in the CMM market include price, accuracy, size, customer relationships, software, services, product differentiation, distribution, and research and development efforts.
The level of importance attached to each of the aforementioned attributes varies depending on the product segment and the end-user target. For example, ease of installation and use plays an important role in the selection process of most CMMs, whereas size and speed of response play a vital role in the selection of bridge machines and articulated-arm machines.
Price is expected to continue to be one of the most important competitive factors in this market. Improvements made in manufacturing and technology is enabling prices to reduce, and this trend is set to continue throughout the forecast period. The level of importance attached to research and development activities varies by market segment.
The articulated-arm machines segment is dynamic from a technology standpoint, and therefore, the R&D investments of manufacturers of such machines are greater than in other segments of the CMM market.
Changes also have occurred in the gantry and horizontal-arm machines segments, but the core technology has remained the same. As a result, product differentiation and customer relationships assume significant importance to get the sale.
End User AnalysisThe highest revenue contributors were the automotive and aerospace industries, which accounted for more than 50% of the total market revenues in 2010. These industries are driven by the need for customized solutions and extended support, as the lifespan of these machines are high.
Current Trends and OpportunitiesOver the years the usage of CMMs has expanded from quality control to process control. The end user’s wish of using dimensional measurement results as a means to check the process involved in the manufacturing of a given product is one of the key factors that have led to the growing usage of CMMs.
CMM manufacturers are increasing their focus on temperature compensation, high-speed data-gathering sensor technology and software improvements to introduce new machines that better address customers’ needs than existing solutions.
Traditional CMMs have had standard control packages with fixed capabilities. Computer numerical controls (CNCs) can be categorized as proprietary standard combinations of hardware and software. In order to build in a lot of flexibility in machines with room for upgrades and expansion for new applications, the software must be developed so that it can evolve with the needs of customers. Consequently, there has been an increase in the number of ISPs collaborating with the CMM vendors to offer best functional deliverables to the customers.
Manufacturers also are focusing more on noncontact probing technology. Laser-based noncontact probes, which have great advantages in terms of the amount of data that can be acquired and the speed with which the data can be obtained, is highly accepted in the automotive and aerospace industries. Manufacturers are working on implementing advanced technologies to reduce errors while using noncontact probing technology.
Last ThoughtsWith several individual product segments near or past the stage of maturity, the growth rate in the CMM market is not expected to rise above the moderate 5% in 2011. Competition is expected to be fierce as large companies seek out strategic merger opportunities. The companies that will successfully adopt cost-cutting measures, as well as manage to continue to improve the price-performance ratio of their product offering, are the ones that are most likely to succeed in this market.
While there are a few factors that can upset the positive development of this market moving forward, the rapid rate of infrastructure development in emerging markets presents immense growth opportunities for manufacturers. If these opportunities are tapped at the right time, market participants can expect robust growth in the coming years. Q
Quality OnlineFor more information on coordinate measuring machines, visit www.qualitymag.com to read the following:
“CMMs Create Flexible Feedback”
“Multisensor CMMs Add Flexibility”
“Portable CMMs Go to Source of Inspection”
BenefitsCMM manufacturers need to provide products that are on par with the industry’s requirements in terms of price and quality.
The world CMM market is dominated by a few large companies, which have operations in most of the key geographic regions.
The highest revenue contributors were the automotive and aerospace industries, which accounted for more than 50% of the total market revenues in 2010.