Improvements in design and technology, the expansion of industrialization and a growing awareness of energy expenditure savings are helping to drive growth in the worldwide pneumatic equipment market, according to a report by BCC Research. The global market is expected to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.7% through 2022, when the sector could be worth $113.9 billion, according to the report Pneumatic Equipment: Technologies and Global Markets.
Global pneumatic equipment market is expected to grow at a CAGR of close to 5% during the period 2016-2020. Following the lean revolution of the 1970s, the outsourcing spectacle of the 1990s, and the automation that took off in the 2000s, this is modern manufacturing's fourth major cataclysm that is predicted to change the face of manufacturing, which drives the need for process control equipment.
Major players in the market include Advanced Pneumatics, Basso Industry Corp., Bosch Rexroth, Chicago Pneumatic, Delton Pneumatics, Eaton Corp., Festo, Gardner Denver, Hitachi Koki, Ingersoll Rand Inc., Jiffy Air Tool, Kramer Air Tools Inc., Makita Corp., Mann+Hummel, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., P&F Industries, Pneumatic Products, SMC Corp. of America, Stanley Black & Decker Inc. and VAC-U-MAX.
The pneumatic equipment market will be dominated by the pneumatic cylinder market mainly because of the increasing application of automation in the industrial sector especially in the automobile, food processing, and chemical sectors. “Pneumatic cylinders are mainly used due to their low initial cost and durability.
They have played a major part in factory automation for decades. They are simple, easy to maintain, and provide reasonable control over machine mo vements in industrial plants.
Earlier, the only pneumatic equipment commonly available were cylinders that had a simple linear motion from an orthodox and bulky barrel and a piston rod cylinder. The demand for smaller but more powerful and effective equipment has, however, led to the development of a wide range of cylinders. Today, the product segment includes single and double acting cylinders, single and twin hollow rod cylinders, grippers, rotary cylinders, and compact cylinders, locking head and multi-positional cylinders, and rod slide units capable of providing a blend of rotary and linear motion.
Pneumatic valves, which have widespread application in the oil and gas, automobile, medical, glass manufacturing, food processing, die casting, and aerospace, among others, led the second place in the pneumatic equipment market. This market projection is expected to continue.
The pneumatic power engine and motor market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.26%. Pneumatic motors have been on the market in many forms over the last two centuries, ranging from hand-held motors to engines of up to several hundred horsepower. Some types depend on pistons and cylinders while others rely on slotted vanes. Pneumatic engines have improved their performance by heating the engine itself. Pneumatic motors have major applications in the hand-held tool industry.
Vacuum pumps and pressure switches constitute the others segment of the pneumatic equipment market.
Vacuum pumps are pooled with operational procedures and chambers into a number of vacuum systems. Sometimes multiple pumps are used in a single application. In a pressure switch, the pressure-sensing component is built to respond to two pressures variations. Such pneumatic pressure switches are beneficial when the variance is significant, for example, to identify a blocked filter in a water distribution system.
Pneumatics is a branch of engineering that makes use of gas or pressurized air.
Pneumatic systems used in industry are commonly powered by compressed air or compressed inert gases. A centrally located and electrically powered compressor powers cylinders, air motors, and other pneumatic devices. A pneumatic system controlled through manual or automatic solenoid valves is selected when it provides a lower cost, more flexible, or safer alternative to electric motors and actuators. Pneumatics also has applications in dentistry, construction, mining, and other areas.
Pneumatic systems in fixed installations, such as factories, use compressed air because a sustainable supply can be made by compressing atmospheric air. The air usually has moisture removed, and a small quantity of oil is added at the compressor to prevent corrosion and lubricate mechanical components.
Factory-plumbed pneumatic-power users need not worry about poisonous leakage, as the gas is usually just air. Smaller or stand-alone systems can use other compressed gases that present an asphyxiation hazard, such as nitrogen—often referred to as OFN (oxygen-free nitrogen) when supplied in cylinders. Compressed oxygen (approx. 21% of air) would not asphyxiate, but is not used in pneumatically-powered devices because it is a fire hazard, more expensive, and offers no performance advantage over air.
Portable pneumatic tools and small vehicles, such as Robot Wars machines and other hobbyist applications are often powered by compressed carbon dioxide, because containers designed to hold it such as soda stream canisters and fire extinguishers are readily available, and the phase change between liquid and gas makes it possible to obtain a larger volume of compressed gas from a lighter container than compressed air requires. Carbon dioxide is an asphyxiant and can be a freezing hazard if vented improperly.
The origins of pneumatics can be traced back to the first century when ancient Greek mathematician Hero of Alexandria wrote about his inventions powered by steam or the wind.
German physicist Otto von Guericke (1602 to 1686) went a little further. He invented the vacuum pump, a device that can draw out air or gas from the attached vessel. He demonstrated the vacuum pump to separate the pairs of copper hemispheres using air pressures. The field of pneumatics has changed considerably over the years. It has moved from small handheld devices to large machines with multiple parts that serve different functions.
Both pneumatics and hydraulics are applications of fluid power. Pneumatics uses an easily compressible gas such as air or a suitable pure gas—while hydraulics uses relatively incompressible liquid media such as oil. Most industrial pneumatic applications use pressures of about 80 to 100 pounds per square inch (550 to 690 kPa). Hydraulics applications commonly use from 1,000 to 5,000 psi (6.9 to 34.5 MPa), but specialized applications may exceed 10,000 psi (69 MPa.
There is vast improvement in pneumatic sealing technology with the availability of a range of composite materials such as synthetic esters, which extend product lifetime and reduce the costs of operating pneumatic actuators.
Also, new permanent lubricating materials such as synthetic ester have extended the life of non-repairable actuators. New application opportunities for pneumatic actuators have led to these technological advances.
A number of challenges could threaten growth in the market. Chief among them is the appearance of electromechanical equipment as a replacement for pneumatic equipment – benefits include better control, greater power, cleaner technology and extended life cycles. Other threats include the failure of air cylinders, the need for better integration of pneumatic equipment with electronics-based products and the need for manufacturers to upgrade supply chains with database management systems.
Frost & Sullivan's latest analysis of the pneumatic valves and actuators market finds that Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) adoption is expected to increase significantly due to rising energy costs and end-user demand for lower product costs, improved operational efficiency, and increased machine uptime. Frost & Sullivan predicts that heightened investment in Asia-Pacific, coupled with uptake in smart solutions such as wireless connectivity, remote monitoring, and predictive analytics, will augment growth opportunities
The increased price pressure on manufacturers stemming from intense competition from low-cost pneumatic equipment manufacturers, while challenging, should be viewed as an opportunity to enhance technical capabilities, adopt lean manufacturing techniques, and increase product diversity, especially through the development and promotion of energy-efficient and smart IIoT-compatible products and services. While IIoT adoption rates will differ based on the region and scope of the end user, the benefit in terms of improved energy and operational efficiency will remain an attractive proposition for all end users.
Manufacturers should focus on new product development strategies on reducing air and energy consumption since compressor air costs account for the majority of operating costs, and lower energy costs reduce the total cost of ownership.
Further strategic imperatives for growth in the pneumatic valves and actuators market include:
Pneumatics process control is considered a mature technology; hence, there are expectations that costs may see a downward trend. Furthermore, big players like SMC and Festo are facing pressures from low-cost sources that offer similar pneumatic equipment at lower prices.