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Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 69 / 42
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The world market for Industrial Ethernet components

IMS Research has just published its latest report on industrial Ethernet growth and prospects. This study shows that the technology is gaining an increasingly prominent place in industrial networking across the world. The report also examines the marketplace for industrial Ethernet components. John Morse reports on the current state of the sector and provides his predictions for growth.

IMS RESEARCH ESTIMATES, in its 2012 World Market for Industrial Ethernet report, that 23.2% of the 31.3m industrial networked nodes in 2011 were based on a variant of Ethernet. The remaining nodes were networked using a fieldbus technology, many of which have been used in industry for far longer than any Ethernet variant. In 2015, the report projects that 26.2% of 45.1m nodes will be Ethernet-based, further confirming its growing importance.

Despite this, IMS Research has previously commented on the resilience of fieldbus technologies, such as simplicity and reliability. These qualities, and the numerous legacy systems in the field, will not give way easily to Ethernet progress.

Which are the leaders?

Which variant of Ethernet had the lion's share of the market in 2011 and how will this change over the next five years? Figure 1 (below) shows the estimated percentages of the leading Ethernet-based technologies used in industrial automation in 2011, and the changes forecast for 2015. Note, however, that these are based on the numbers of worldwide nodes installed. The shares vary significantly when regions are considered, with the strength of sponsoring manufacturers being the driving factor.

Figure 1 - The World Market for New Industrial Ethernet Nodes - 2011 and 2015 (source - IMS Research).

There are no big surprises in the shares of the main Ethernet variants forecast over the five year period. All of the technologies are predicted to grow at very much the same annual rate (around 13%). This is mainly because the communication technology used by a company is frequently driven by the brand of PLC or controller at the heart of the network which, itself, is often influenced by the legacy system on the production line or within the plant.

Also note the strength of Ethernet TCP/IP, the 'standard' form of Ethernet. For many users, the non-deterministic nature of this technology is no problem. Ethernet TCP/IP was estimated to account for 43.0% of new nodes connected in 2010 and is forecast to decrease slightly to 40.2% in 2015. Some commentators believe these percentages should be greater but, for this report, only the connectivity of commonly used industrial devices was taken into consideration as many non-industrial devices are used in non-extreme environments.

Conservative industry

Of the industrial Ethernet variants, the two most used are EtherNet/IP and Profinet, with estimated 2011 shares of 13.3% and 13.0%, respectively. These are forecast to change to 13.9% and 14.5% in 2015. The slightly higher growth rate of Profinet may be because it was later to the market. These changes are small, as industry is very conservative; this is particularly true in process industries where safety and legislation have greater influence.

In the Americas, the Rockwell Automationchampioned Ethernet/IP remains the dominant industrial networking technology, with Profinet, sponsored by Siemens, remaining number one in EMEA. The situation in Asia is far more mixed, with no clear leader in this region.

It is surprising that Gigabit Ethernet, which here includes 10 GigE, is projected to increase its share of the market by only 0.3% over the next five years. IMS Research believes that, although many devices now have Gigabit Ethernet available at the port, it is only occasionally used. It is employed where a backbone is installed (often via fibre-optic cable) but, at machine level, Ethernet 10/100 over copper is more common.

Both EtherCAT and Sercos III are forecast to grow their shares, and the B&R developed PowerLink should maintain its share in 2015. All three enjoy greater market shares in EMEA.


Figure 2 (above) shows the world market shares for Industrial Ethernet components. This is the first time managed routing switches (with Layer 3 functionality) have been included. This important sector is estimated to account for 6.0% of the total annual market for industrial Ethernet components, worth $938m in 2011 and forecast to increase to $1.4bn in 2015.

Figure 2 - The World Market for Industrial Ethernet Components - 2011 (source - IMS Research).

The adoption of managed switches will grow at a faster rate, superseding the market for hubs, which has almost disappeared.

IMS Research (www.imsresearch.com) continuously monitors the industrial Ethernet market and issues reports on an annual basis.

John Morse is a senior analyst at IMS Research.

Source: Industrial Ethernet Book Issue 69 / 42
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