Will technological maturity hold back mechanical power transmissions market

Paul Boughton

Mechanical power transmissions are used across a vast range of end-user applications, spanning material handling, machine tools, mining, etc. This large installed base has meant that there exists sizeable potential for replacement sales.
 
The European market for mechanical power transmissions is well established and its technology mature. While there is unlikely to be any major product innovation, manufacturers continue to strive for small design improvements that will further enhance product performance, reliability, error-free operation and product lifetime.
 
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, European Mechanical Power Transmissions Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $2337.9 million in 2011 and estimates this to reach $2529.6 million in 2018. The research covers chain drives and belt drives.
 
"Mechanical power transmission components are relatively inexpensive compared to direct drive or variable frequency drives (VFD) technology," noted Frost & Sullivan Power Transmission Research Analyst Ramasubramanian Natarajan. "Simplicity of design, together with ease-of-use and maintenance, has led to its widespread adoption across every possible industrial application."
 
Initial investments associated with mechanical power transmissions are significantly lower than advanced power transmissions technologies like direct drives or VFD. As a result, several small-scale ventures prefer to invest in these cost- effective solutions, rather than VFD technology.
 
"Trends are currently favouring complete solutions, starting from belt and chain selection to installation and servicing," added Natarajan. "This will provide significant opportunities for retrofitting and servicing."
 
However, limited innovation and product differentiation, paralleled by rapid advancements in alternative power transmission technologies like VFD, pose a serious threat to the market's future.
 
"As in most industries, customer satisfaction is perceived as the key to success in the European mechanical power transmissions market as well," advised Natarajan. "Price, quality, ease-of-use and maintenance, ready availability in large quantities and after sales support will drive the market in the future. Another aspect of service, and one becoming increasingly important, is the ability to provide fast and reliable lead and delivery times."

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