Growth in the panel builders market accelerated in 2015, with the industrial and infrastructure sectors performing particularly strongly. Power generation was an area of opportunity, with demand for the development of renewable energy assets and for the refurbishment of existing assets in the non-renewable sector, while infrastructure was the best performing sector for new construction work. The panel building sector declined slightly in 2016, mainly due to falls in new work in both the industrial and infrastructure sectors, although market value remains well above 2014 levels. The decline is expected to be a short-term one, with growth expected to return from 2017 onwards.
Factors supporting the market include growth in specialist markets, such as hazardous environments, along with tightening regulation, further environmental legislation and investment in development of the renewable energy sector. Other positive influences include the growth of R&D in the advanced manufacturing sector, the increasing adoption of automation in manufacturing, increasing investment in UK datacentres and the modernisation of the country’s rail network.
Factors negatively affecting market growth include ongoing public sector austerity measures (although infrastructure spending is forecast to increase) and a very competitive market that is keeping prices deflated. Also, some significant end use sectors, have seen sharp falls in capital expenditure which may affect growth if fresh investment is not committed in the short-term. Leading end use markets include industrial and manufacturing, water and sewage, power generation, oil, gas and marine, construction and transport.
Power distribution panels represent the largest product sector, followed by motor and process controls and building control systems. Safety, security and other panels make up the remainder of the market. Product development is primarily concerned with modularisation, allowing for quick and flexible installation, reduced maintenance, environmental factors and health and safety, motivating demand for more sophisticated products which can withstand hazardous environments.