The extent of application of position sensors has exponentially widened during the past few years because of the rising integration of automation in a variety of industries around the world. Further due to a shift in the way consumers used to participate in their shopping activities until a few months ago due to COVID 19 it has led to an increased share of eCommerce transactions. Moreover, the social distancing measure necessitated by the global pandemic has made organizations, especially retail space, adopt automation at an unprecedented pace to maintain an adequate level of sanitation thereby contributing to the ongoing global effort of prevention. Additionally, the requirement of energy with concomitant phasing off of coal-based power generation, oil and gas-based power generation is being prioritized by the national governments across the world and is expected to also drive the growth of the position sensor market. Further developments in the market that are anticipated to drive the market growth are being explicated ahead.
Complementarily, with the advent of Industry 4.0 and the resultant digitization, industrial automation is at the forefront that is expected to drive the position sensor market growth at an unexampled level during the next few years. This is fueled by the growing rate of technological developments to which industrial and service robots are being subjected to. Further, a greater deployment of robots in the manufacturing sector to streamline processes and ensure a higher return on investments simultaneously reducing margins of error are also fueling the ever-increasing automation application, which in turn is driving the growth of the market. For instance, ABB (SIX: ABBN, NYSE: ABB, Nasdaq Stockholm: ABB) reportedly launched the third generation of its “Foundry Prime” industrial robotic arm, in June 2018, which can reportedly reduce maintenance cost by up to 60% and energy consumption by 15%. The robot’s high degree of flexibility allows the cleaning of different parts of geometries in the same cell with nil change over time. Besides automation, position sensors are also used in other areas of indusial application, Viz. the oil the gas industry where Control and shut-off valves are used for oil and gas transmission in refineries and petrochemical plants. It is a harsh environment and necessitates measures to guarantee explosion protection. To this extent, Balluff GmbH has reportedly launched a certified position measuring system BTL7-T500, in May 2018 to meet a braid range of application requirements with high reliability and ensure safe operations in explosion hazard areas of Zone 1 and Zone 0. It comprises a wear-free magnetostrictive measuring system in the stainless-steel housing with IP 67 protection that is shock rated to 100 g with the ability to withstand vibration up to 12 g.
While the aforementioned is restricted to back-of-the-house operation, automation has found its way in front of the customer as well. For example, in the case of retail establishment retail robots can spot mistakes on shelf labels creating alerts for the human workforce to fix the error. This not only allows the establishment to assign valuable man-hours to customers facing activities but also to gain a competitive advantage over eCommerce establishment retaining customer loyalty. For example, in March 2018, it was reported that Walmart (NYSE: WMT) had expanded itsshelf-scanning robots to 50 stores across shelf-scanning robots to its 50 stores across four states, in the USA which was achieved in close cooperation with fully autonomous robots' manufacturer, Bossa Nova Robotics, which in June had reportedly announced a $29 million round of funding led by LG Electronics and China Walden Ventures along with WRV Capital, Lucas Venture Group, Intel Capital and Cota Capital to scale up production of its mobile inventory robots for retailers and grocery stores, ultimately raising a total of $70 million. Moreover, as a part of a partnership between SoftBank Robotics America, Inc. and HSBC (SEHK: 5, NYSE: HSBC, LSE: HSBA, Euronext: HSB, BSX: HSBC.BH) which is constituent of HSBC’s new $131 million “branch of the future” strategy to modernize its retail banking experience, the humanoid social robot Pepper® was introduced at the HSBC’s iconic Fifth Avenue branch in Manhattan in making it the first financial institution in the retail banking space. Before further applications of this device and developments in the position sensor market are delved into, a quick overview of the nitty-gritty of the position sensor is considered pertinent at this juncture.
Position sensors constitute an input device that is capable of providing a signal which is an electrical output which is prepared and is on standby to be received by equipment that is designated as a receiver either through wireless connectivity or via a connected mode as a response to be the input measurand. The function of position sensors encompasses the measurement of the distance between a reference point and the target location thereby determining the position of the latter resultantly serving its purpose. Another purpose in which position sensors are known to be used for is that of displacement sensors which are achieved by the addition of a circuitry enabling the retention of information pertaining to that of the previous position from which the updated position is deducted resulting in the difference which is the displacement. Further based on specifications position sensors are categorized as contactless and contact sensors. Sensors that are of the contact type have a limited lifetime due to the abrasion caused by various components incorporated within it. On the contrary, the incorporation of various methods such as optical, magnetic, inductive, and capacitive coupling facilitates the desired function of contactless sensors. Besides another application area that is witnessing a gradual increase in the market share of position sensors is being illuminated below.
The semiconductor industry is witnessing innovation at a breakneck speed and position sensors are not exempt, especially when autonomous vehicles have transitioned from a mere concept on the drawing board to a tangible reality revolutionizing the entire automobile industry and fostering eco-friendly transport solutions. Among others, autonomous vehicles are known to use the inertial measurement unit (IMU) which is essentially a is a centralized system tasked with the monitoring of the location of other sensors that are relative to the vehicle position. It constitutes gyroscopes and accelerometers to calculate the position and motion of the car irrespective of the signal obstruction. To this end, a recent development is germane to the aforesaid, which is the reported launch of the automotive-grade ASM330LHH six-axis inertial sensor for “super-high-resolution motion tracking in advanced vehicle navigation and telematics applications by STMicroelectronics (BIT: STM, Euronext: STM) that also the needs of advanced automated-driving systems.