MRO Magazine

PT distributors keen on expansion: Mechatronics and motion control targeted

Chicago, IL -- Post-recession business plans for the many of the distributor members of the Power Transmission...

Chicago, IL — Post-recession business plans for the many of the distributor members of the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) include expansion into the motion control and mechatronics area of factory automation, according to a recent association survey.

Mechatronics is the confluence of electronics, control and mechanical action and is a critical component of any automated process. For many years, motion control was visualized as individual components — some mechanical, some electronic. According to the results of this new survey, the markets are rapidly merging.

Based on a recent survey sampling of PTDA distributor members, distributors view the motion control industry as a natural extension of their business. Nineteen per cent of survey respondents indicate they are ‘fully engaged’ in the motion control business. Another 43% currently sell motion control products and plan to further expand their efforts in the post-recession months ahead.

Contrary to what one might imagine, much of the attention is focused on things electronic. Members surveyed are currently building a place for themselves in the related ancillary products — sensors (54%), PLC controllers and electronic machine guarding products (both at 50%) joined products like ac drives, servo systems and high-performance gearboxes in garnering the group’s attention.


In previous years, distributors relied on their manufacturing partners for things like training, marketing direction and customer technical backup. Today, PTDA members are increasingly harnessing the power of specialists. Sixty per cent of the PTDA distributors responding to the survey indicate they use a specialist in some part of their business. Additionally, 82% of these specialists carry the ‘heavyweight’ credentials of either an engineering degree or three-plus years of in-the-trenches technical experience.

Knowledge-based distribution runs on information. Overwhelmingly, PTDA members have asked their association to continue to pump out training for both their employees and customers. Seventy-three per cent would like to see additional educational tools and 42% would like for those tools to be designed to help customers learn more about this fast-paced technology.

This survey was conducted as a joint effort between PTDA and River Heights Consulting.

Founded in 1960, the Power Transmission Distributors Association (PTDA) is an association for the industrial power transmission/motion control (PT/MC) distribution channel. A US-based trade association, PTDA represents 198 power transmission/motion control distribution firms that generate more than $10 billion in sales and span 3,500 locations in North America and 11 other countries. PTDA members also include 187 manufacturers that supply the PT/MC industry.

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