23 Jul 2024


Global PLC sales slump by 11.5%, but ‘will rebound’

The global market for PLCs (programmable logic controllers) shrank by 11.5% in 2015, and is continuing to contract this year, according to analysis by IHS Markit. It attributes the decline to a combination of factors, including the unfavourable economic climate in emerging economies, China’s economic slowdown, over-capacity in heavy industries, as well as the end of the commodity super-cycle.

However, the analyst expects growth to return from 2017 to 2020 when it forecasts that revenues from PLCs and associated software and services will grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 3.8%, reaching $9.3bn by 2020. Last year, the market was worth $8.3bn.

Machine tools, packaging machinery and the automotive sector are the three largest markets for PLCs. However, these markets – especially the machine tool sector – are forecast to grow more slowly than the market average between 2015 and 2020. The machine-tool sector suffered a big decline in 2015 in both China and the US, which are the leading markets for machine tools.

Robotics is the fastest-growing market for PLCs in discrete manufacturing. As core components for robots, PLCs are expected to benefit greatly from the global boom in robotics. Food, beverage and tobacco machinery will be the second-fastest growing sector between 2015 and 2020. In the process sector, the water and wastewater, pharmaceutical and power-generation markets are forecast to expand fastest.

EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) will continue to be the largest regional market for PLCs, accounting for more than a third of global revenues in 2020. The Asia-Pacific region will be the fastest-growing – especially from 2018 to 2020 – driven by the expanding Indian and Southeast Asian markets and a recovering Chinese market tied to the South Korean and Taiwanese markets. The American region is expected to be the second-fastest growing market, with a strong recovery forecast to begin in 2017.