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Sensors are used widely in industries including automotive, medical, industrial, entertainment, security, and defense due to the increased use of process controls and sensing elements in different sectors. While micromachining enhanced the scope of sensor fabrication applications, nanotechnology and micro-electromechanical technology led to improvements in sensor development, design, and the production of inexpensive compact sensors.
However, the reduced level of economic activity during the recession period exerted a disproportionate impact on industrial production as a result of reduced manufacturing and commercial activity. Manufacturing output declined, resulting in broad-based declines in process and manufacturing industries. Reductions in production, plant closures, capacity idling and scaling back of operating capacity reduced the immediate need for investments in new machinery. Sputtering investments in industrial production brought in reduced orders for sensors in this end-use market. With the manufacturing sector stumped by deteriorating business fundamentals, order intake for machine tools has declined. Freezing of capital expenditure in the manufacturing and industrial sectors has negatively impacted demand for sensors for use in machine tools and machinery. In addition to the postponement of scheduled deployments of new machinery in production facilities, and the lengthening of the replacement cycle, the market was also acutely impacted by increased end-user negotiations for longer lead times, which resulted in increasing the time period between order quote and final purchase, thus squeezing revenues further.
Cancellation, postponement, and general weakness in new office, commercial and residential building projects have reduced new housing starts and cost cutting among commercial establishments, and companies, thus impacting sensors demand in the HVAC and building control applications market. The automotive sensor market also experienced a decline in 2009 following recession-reduced demand for vehicles across the globe. However, this is expected to change in the coming years, as vehicle stability control is likely to become mandatory for new cars. Post recession, car manufacturers will launch electronics-administered innovations for superior comfort and efficiencies, in response to stricter fuel mileage, safety and environmental regulations, as well as high expectations from the customers.
Emerging application areas for sensors in the post-recession period include defense/aerospace, consumer goods, process/control, automation, medical, automotive and other markets. Specifically, automotive, information technology and medical applications are expected to emerge as the most promising markets for sensors over the next five years. Image sensors, accelerometers, gyro sensors and giant magnetoresistive (GMR) sensors are making significant inroads into these applications. Global industrial applications of radar-based level sensors, photoelectric proximity sensors, IR temperature and gas sensors, as well as Coriolis and ultrasonic flowmeters, are expected to witness an upsurge in the forthcoming years. Advanced technology-based categories such as microelectromechanical (MEMS) sensors, biosensors, and complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensors are fueling revenue growth across major regional markets.
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