The demand for programmable safety systems is accelerating nearly three times faster than demand for any other automatic machine safeguarding product, thanks in large part to changes in design and implementation processes. Natick, Mass.-based technology market research and consulting firm Venture Development Corporation (VDC) will release a report this month that forecasts a 30.6% increase in the market between 2004 and 2007 (see Chart). In discussions with automation suppliers, VDC discovered three trends driving the growth in programmable safety systems. First, European countries started developing machine safety standards before North America and subsequently have influence over the migration toward uniform international machine safety regulations. Second, these countries use 24VDC power rather than 120VAC power, and customers may begin to retrofit or replace existing systems with 24VDC equipment. Finally, industries are realizing the value of implementing safety bus networks in manufacturing processes, which digitally monitor the status of safety equipment through software platforms.