An actuator is a mechanical device that is responsible for converting energy into motion. With the help of input energy that is generated by electricity, air, or liquid, actuators apply a force to move an object. Types of actuators include hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical, thermal, mechanical. Actuators make use of an energy source and a control signal.
Actuators have been in use since World War II and have seen applications in multiple industries and applications. Actuators have become a crucial part of the industry to control various imperative functions and are known to provide high precision and reliability. The actuators market is past the growth stage and is nearing maturity. Inculcation of the latest technologies, such as intelligent control and the Internet of things (IoT), into actuators, is projected to propel actuators market growth in the years to come.
The oil and gas sector are undergoing a remarkable change and the United States and on course to lead the global trade of oil and gas in the coming years. With the increase in research and development in the shale gas sector in the U.S., the demand for actuators is projected to witness considerable growth in the coming years. Inter-governmental treaties such as the TAPI(Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India) pipeline project, also known as the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, will carry 33 billion cubic meters of natural gas to the said countries, which will propel the demand for actuators that are used to control the flow processes in the oil and gas industry. Furthermore, investments from countries such as Saudi Arabia drive actuators market growth. For instance, Saudi Arabia's Aramco plans to make an investment of around USD 110 Billion in the Jafurah gas field.
The world is continuously working to tackle the climate crisis and aligning its rules and regulations as per the goals of the Paris Climate Change Treaty. The Paris Agreement stipulates that countries must cut down on their carbon footprint and strive to mitigate the adverse impacts of global warming. This agreement has urged governments and private players to come forward and invest in cleaner technologies that use less electricity and work on cleaner alternative fuels. This has led to the development of new systems that emit lesser carbon and are equipped with Internet of things (IoT) technology, thus consuming lesser power while delivering higher efficiency. This is likely to propel the growth of the actuators market that is highly efficient and can be integrated with the latest applications.
Electrical actuators are easily available and most widely used since they do not use oil compressed air, which reduces the need for extra machinery. These actuators are powered by electrical energy and make use of a powerful motor and convert the electrical energy into an actuating force. These actuators are preferred in electrically motorized equipment that are used for excavation and construction.
Pneumatic actuators make use of compressed air or gas to produce desirable linear or rotational motion. Pneumatic actuators are most widely used in engine pistons, ignition chambers, and other automotive applications as they require a quick response in terms of the starting and stopping of the actuators. Pneumatic actuators are cheap, safer, and highly reliable as compared to other actuator types and, hence, abundantly used.
The pharmaceutical and chemicals industry employs the use of heavy machines that require high quality, cleanliness, and minimum human interaction. Actuators are used to control critical chemical processes such as flow control, filtration, and refrigeration, among others. For instance, in North America, the chemical industry is a key industry for the Canadian economy and remains a fast-growing sector. As per the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC), Canada’s chemical industry is valued at USD 58 billion. The chemical industry needs large scale refrigerators to store chemical formulations and HVAC systems to maintain a constant temperature and avoid contamination. HVACs use a large number of actuators that act as an interlink between the mechanical and control systems. There is an increase in demand for actuators that can be embedded with smart technologies to further drive market growth. Thus, growth in HVAC and refrigeration systems used in the chemical industry will stimulate the growth of the actuators market.
Actuators play a crucial role in the wastewater industry for the treatment of industrial end waste products in various areas such as pumping stations, sluices, and water pipelines, among others. With an increase in the number of environmental laws and regulations, which require industries to treat the end waste before it is let into water sources, the demand for actuators that are used to control filter flows, sludge valves, wash water valves, and affluents valves, among others, has increased. Furthermore, intelligent features in actuators that help in energy saving, and improve process efficiency act as catalysts for the actuators market.
The automotive industry plays a crucial role in the overall prosperity of the European economy. It represents a significant portion of the continent’s exports and accounts for around 13 million jobs. As per the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, total investments in Europe’s automotive sector amounted to USD 60 billion dollars in 2017, while the total vehicles produced in 2018 amounted to 17.2 million units, representing around 18% of the global figure. Actuators are widely used in automobile manufacturing stations in industrial automation and robotics to automate the manufacturing process to increase output, efficiency, and reduce human accidents. Thus, the actuators market will grow in tandem with the automotive sector, to a certain degree.
Food and beverage is another leading industry in Europe. Actuators are used widely in the food and beverage industry to control the flow processes involved in the manufacturing of food and beverages. As per FoodDrink Europe, total external trade accounted for USD 121 billion, of which Europe held 18%. This has been backed by resurgent investments worth about USD 3.2 billion in research and development. The food and beverage industry employ large-scale use of actuators that control important processes that require precision in terms of timing and also require minimum human contact to maintain high cleanliness standards. Thus, the growth of the food and beverage industry is expected to drive the demand for various types of actuators and subsequently supplement the growth of the actuators market.
The key participants involved in the actuators market include Johnson Controls International plc, Assured Automation, Honeywell International Inc., Micromatic LLC, Cair Euromatic Automation Pvt Ltd, Cameron International Corporation, Festo AG and Co. KG, Rotork, Flowserve Corporation, General Electric, Schlumberger Limited, Emerson Electric Co., Auma Riester GmbH and Co., Schneider Electric, The Danfoss Group, Curtiss-Wright, Top Line Process Equipment Co., Harmonic Drive LLC, and Elger Controls India Private Ltd, among others.