Continued strength in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) market for packaging machinery, industrial PCs, and ac and dc-motor drives is the order of the day, reports market research firm IMS Research, Wellingborough, U.K.

The EMEA market for packaging machinery will climb to 11.3 billion € ($14.2 billion U.S.) by 2009 — a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3%. Developing regions such as the Russian Federation, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa should register annual growth of nearly 10%, according to the IMS Research report, "Eastern Europe Drives Packaging Machinery Growth." Greater demand for processed foods and beverages and rising consumer incomes are said to be driving the trend.

Among the machinery groups analyzed, the labeling, decorating, and coding machinery sector will be the fastest-growing segment, with a CAGR of 7.0%. Filling & dosing is the largest sector for packaging machinery, representing nearly a quarter of all revenues. Steady growth is predicted within this sector as the need for reducing changeover times and making machines more flexible increases.

The EMEA market for industrial PCs should experience a CAGR of 8% through 2010, reaching an estimated market size of about USD 940 million. The push for greater machine efficiency and flexibility by end users is a major factor.

IMS Research Market Analyst Mark Watson says, "The recent introduction of dual core processors will have a significant impact on the market for industrial PCs. These processors, which deliver considerably more processing capacity without a comparable increase in power consumption, will allow more-efficient use of industrial PCs. Benefits include reduced cooling requirements and lower running costs."

This is one conclusion of the latest IMS Research study on the EMEA market for industrial PCs. The report analyzed four product types and found that panel industrial PCs accounted for over 47% of market revenues.

The report also found that industrial PC manufacturers are adopting a modular approach, customizing standard industrial PCs to fulfill customer needs.

In 2004 and 2005, the worldwide market for ac and dc motor drives showed the strongest years of consecutive growth in over a decade. The market was strong across all product categories, all power ranges, and in all regions. China, of course, was strong. North America continued its excellent growth. The biggest surprise was the strength in EMEA. After lagging for the past few years, growth in this market was surpassed only by growth in China.

According to IMS Research Analyst Steve Odom, "The manufacturing boom in China, big increases in spending around the globe to get base commodities out of the ground, and higher energy prices helped push all regional drives markets higher."

The question is how long this exuberant market will continue. While there appears to be no sign of an imminent slowdown, results from the first quarter of 2006 show the North American drives market experiencing its slowest rate of growth in five quarters. Whether first quarter growth in North America is an early sign of moderating growth or just a quarterly aberration remains to be seen. After backto-back years of well-aboveaverage growth, a letup at some point during the year would not be surprising.

IMS Research, Wellingborough, U.K., carries out market research and consults on global electronics markets.