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Karthik Sundaram is an industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan corporate consultants.
Photo: Karthik Sundaram

Global machine safety: Interview with industry analyst Karthik Sundaram

Karthik Sundaram is an industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan corporate consultants. Together with his team, he is responsible for the current study entitled “Strategic Analysis of Global Machine Safety Market”.


Mr. Sundaram, what are the significant drivers for machine safety on the machinery manufacturers’ global market?

Predominantly, we can identify three drivers which will have a demonstrable influence on the market’s growth. The onset of stringent safety requirements is the greatest driving force behind machine safety at the global level and this trend will shape the future of this market over the next decade. This trend is confirmed by all the manufacturers and component suppliers whom we interacted with during the course of our research.

Additionally, the shift of production facilities from developed industrial nations to newly industrialized countries like China, India and Brazil, has created a fertile breeding ground for machine safety potential. In specific, the growing awareness and emphasis on employee safety has furthered the demand for machine safety applications. The market is poised to be marked with significant investments globally, both in developing economies and threshold countries.

How are those driving forces related to the so-called “megatrends”?

I think the “safety and security” megatrend, that includes cyber security, will catalyse the emergence of new regulations and standards, globally. That will also be a strong driving force for machine safety suppliers, and will therefore also have a favorable effect on the growth of the market.

What effects does the increasing number of regulations in the field of machine safety have on the users?

In the industrialized nations, there are central regulations that strongly influence the market, such as the ISO 13849 standard in Europe. They have significantly increased the pressure to implement regulations on machine safety. In the threshold countries, as already mentioned, this is not yet pronounced. But we expect that to change in the coming years.

What effects will that have on the suppliers of machine safety products?

The decisive thing will be for their products not only to increase machine safety, but also boost the efficiency and productivity of the machines. A rethink in the direction of a holistic view is needed in this respect.

Can you detect any change in attitude among machine manufacturers with regard to machine safety?

End-users want to avoid pressure from governments and employees at all costs. Consequently, consciousness of what is at stake and what effects insufficient investment in machine safety is enormously high. This consciousness will increase even further in the coming years.

Are different sectors of industry at different levels of development in regard to the challenges posed by the topic of machine safety?

The automotive, food and beverage, electronics and semiconductor, and pharmaceuticals industries are already very far advanced in the adopting of machine safety applications. That is primarily due to the fact that inadequate safety in those industries impairs the quality of the product and therefore has a direct impact on the consumer. In contrast, we also see great potential for growth in the machine tool sector and packaging and material processing industries. There, occupational health and safety is increasingly growing in importance.

What technological trends can be observed on the machine safety market?

In machine automation, we are currently going through a revolution in the fields of networking and software – and it will continue in the coming years. Aside from PLCs, drives and hydraulic solutions, the changing dynamics in communication and integrated safety systems will have a huge influence on the market, and new standards will appreciably penetrate the market.

Central challenges to the market for machine safety. Source: Frost & Sullivan


Do the current products reflect the trends mentioned above and fulfill the needs of the users?

Yes and no. This market is still a supplier’s market. Although great impetus has been provided by regulations and standards, users are still implementing the systems supplied by large companies. But there is a lot of room for extended functionality, and many products fall into the area of machine safety. Safety PLCs, for example, are capable of doing far more than they do, currently. For the users, stringent requirements for machine safety rings synonymous with higher capital expenditure and lower return on investment. This attitude needs to change. At the risk of repeating myself but it is the key issue for us: The suppliers have to focus more closely on productivity.

Are the OEMs more interested in purchasing components or integrated systems from the suppliers?

That is dependent on the industry. A machine tool manufacturer is more likely to require an integrated solution, while a manufacturer in the food and beverage industry will prefer to buy components. At a higher level, you can say that demand for integrated solutions is growing, but demand for components will continue to be persistent.

How could the topic of integrated industry influence the machine safety market?

This concept of integrated industry aims at a harmonized industrial system architecture in which all the components can interact with each other. This is poised to have a decisive impact on machine safety products that will give rise to emergence of solutions that can be integrated at all levels of the production process and provide enhanced operational safety.

What opportunities and risks does the topic entail for users?

The users have to be much more vociferous in their demands for safety products. Not, though, because they will then comply with regulations, but as an opportunity to innovate within their businesses. We can’t see any risks in that. On the contrary, at the end of the day machine safety provides a sound foundation for making highly sustainable profits and minimizing risks.