Safety sensors and systems play a vital role to ensure safety of employees and workers in factories and production units across industry verticals. These products act as a bridge between human and machine interaction to avoid work related hazards. Safety sensors include safety light curtains, safety mats, safety laser scanners, safety edges and anti-collision sensors.
Components such as proximity sensors, fiber optic sensors, vision sensors, infrared sensors, laser sensors, magnetic sensors and ultrasonic sensors are commonly present in these products, and act as the key sensing element. The rising demand for end products in automotive, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and semiconductor and surge in economies of emerging countries such as China, India, Brazil and Russia welcomes more manufacturing plants and production facilities. Manufacturing industries use heavy machines and have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries to labor, such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns or blindness. Hence, the usage of safety sensors is necessary apart from safety precautions for protecting workers from these injuries.
The global safety sensors and switches market has some key players, which altogether hold around 80 percent share in the market. SICK AG is the major market shareholder of global safety sensor and switches market. Pepperl+Fuchs is the second major shareholder followed by Rockwell Automation, Ifm Electronic GmbH, Omron Corporation and Datalogic S.p.A.
The companies are strengthening their product portfolio by investing more resources in R&D department for developing better safety and efficient products. For example, Omron launched robust, compact safety light curtain which has housing structure to enhance resistance against shock and vibration. K. A. Schmersal launched new safety light curtain which comes with the muting and the multi-scan function. IDEC Corp launched SE4D safety light curtain that is provided with muting control to achieve the global standard for safety and resistance to harsh environment.
The safety sensors and switches are estimated to have significant market potential in coming years, owing to the increasing demand from end user industries. For the period of 2014 to 2020, the global safety sensors and switches market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 3.1 percent to reach $3.3 billion by 2020. Every geographic region set down their respective standards, certifications and guidelines for machine safety and this is a key driver for the global market growth. The International Electro-technical Commission and International Organization for Standardization jointly prepared the IEC/ISO Guide 51 as a criterion for establishing standards concerning machinery safety. Europe set down Machinery Directive which deals with machinery and safety components; the regulatory bodies in North America region include Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); China Compulsory Certification (CCC) is a mandatory certification system pertaining product safety in China and Japanese products are checked under the Electrical Appliance and Material Safety Law.
Manufacturing industry applications are the major end-user segment, where safety sensors and switches has a broad spectrum of applications in manufacturing processes such as material handling, robot cells, packaging, palletizers, conveyor systems, assembly, machine tools, transport systems and so on. The end-user verticals that have manufacturing as the central part include Aerospace industry, Automotive, food and beverages, pulp and paper, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors and so on. Safety sensors are used for presence detection application in the above manufacturing plants. The safety sensors and switches also have significant applications in power and energy industries, such as chemical industry, oil and gas, mining, nuclear and so on.