GM investments, robots may herald 2017 market growth

By Connector Supplier | January 24, 2017

GM is investing $1 billion in US factories, possibly foretelling a strong market for industrial products. Record setting robot sales also portend growth for connector makers that focus on the severe demands for ruggedized components.



GM US factory investmentA General Motors plan to invest $1 billion in its US factories may herald an expansion in manufacturing. The shift to the Industrial Internet of Things and the never-ending quest to improve efficiency are helping fuel growth in automated equipment, sparking a growing need for the connectors nestled inside robots, digital controls, and other gear.

GM’s announcement focused on jobs, but the company said it plans “new investments that cover multiple new vehicle, advanced technology and component projects.” The automaker also noted that it’s asking its suppliers to build facilities near GM plants. This type of auto industry expansion should drive solid growth for industrial equipment makers, since automotive drives many segments of the equipment market.

The GM plan follows a strong year for manufacturing equipment. For example, the Robotic Industries Association said North American robot orders and shipments set records in the first nine months of 2016, the latest period now available. Sales of 23,985 robots valued at $1.3 billion were driven primarily by automotive OEMs and component suppliers.

The trend to IIoT brings more connectivity, which requires sensors and digital controls. Together, these trends should drive expansion for the suppliers of industrial connectors. The harsh operating environments found in industrial facilities force design teams to focus on ruggedness and durability.

Top 10That means companies that target industrial markets can benefit from that focus. Bishop Report data bears this out. More than half the suppliers listed in Bishop’s Top 10 for industrial are not in the Top 10 list for global sales.

TE Connectivity, Amphenol and Molex were the top three in both global sales and industrial in 2015. JST was the only other company to make the top rankings in both categories.

The six suppliers who rose to the Top 10 in industrial were HARTING, Phoenix Contact, Belden, 3M, Weidmuller, and Samtec.

Further details about the Bishop Report Top 10 will be included in the Jan. 27 newsletter.

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