Global NC Software Market Grew 14.4% in 2011

Rate of growth in machine control software reflects global trend toward productivity, competitiveness

CIMdata Inc., a global consulting and research firm, is estimating that the worldwide market for NC software and related services grew 14.4% during 2011, based on end-user payments. The estimated end-user payments grew from $1.333 billion in 2010 to $1.525 billion in 2011.

The same forecasters also projected that manufacturing activity will continue to grow in 2012, and end-user payments for NC software will increase again by 12.4% to $1.714 billion. CIMdata conducts research into and offers consultation on product lifecycle management (PLM) programs. The conclusions are part of a study that CIMdata will release soon, Version 21 of the CIMdata NC Market Analysis Report.

Stan Przybylinski, CIMdata’s director of research, noted 2011 exhibited strong recovery in the manufacturing sector, as shown by machine tool shipments, and software investments followed that development. “This is consistent with our results from our global PLM market analysis,” Przybylinski said.

The rate of growth in the market during 2011 reflected a strong level of investment in PLM software, continuing a rebound in that category since the end of the 2008-2009 global recession, and manifested in significantly higher machine tool sales over the same period. Some estimates identify a 35% increase in worldwide machine tool shipments from 2010 to 2011, which relates to the volume of investment in CAM software needed to program those systems.

The NC software market has shown modest but steady growth since 2002, the research group stated. There has been worldwide growth in both the sales of machine tools and manufacturing output over that period, as manufacturers raised their emphasis on machine tool efficiency (a part of a broader effort to improve productivity and competitiveness.)

The global PLM market continued to grow across this timeframe, too. Purchases of CAM software (one category of the PLM market) are related to all of these factors—particularly machine tool sales.

Alan Christman, CIMdata chairman and author of the NC Market Analysis Report, observed that “2011 was an excellent year for manufacturers and most providers of NC software.

“The continued strength and growing importance of global manufacturing powers like China and other emerging economies should result in increased investment in advanced technologies like CAD, CAM, and other segments of the overall PLM market,” Christman said. “We have seen moves documented in the popular press to bring manufacturing back to the U.S., which will require still more investment in advanced manufacturing technologies to be competitive with economies with lower labor costs. The next few years should continue to be strong for NC and the broader PLM market.”

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