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Web-based automation `will treble in two years`

01 November, 2002

Web-based automation `will treble in two years`

The market for Web-enabled automation systems will almost treble over the coming two years, according to a new forecast. The analyst IMS Research says that the market in Europe in North America is already worth more than $50m, and predicts that the move towards Web-enabled automation "will inspire significant changes in the way companies implement communications systems on the factory floor".

"This market is no longer at the early innovator stage," says IMS senior analyst, Adrain Lloyd. "Admittedly, many of the initial players in this market were small-sized companies, but recent product announcements from Rockwell, Honeywell, and Siemens - who join Schneider Automation, which has been promoting the technology for several years - highlight that the structure of the supplier base is starting to change.

"At the end of 2000, only around 15 suppliers offered Web-enabled functionality," Lloyd recalls. "By mid-2002, in excess of 40 vendors had introduced products with this type of functionality."

While the increasing use of Ethernet in control systems is providing the long-term impetus for Web-based systems, intelligent gateways which provide Web connections for almost any automation product are giving immediate access to Web-based automation and its benefits, says IMS.

Although Web-based systems may appear to be yet another over-hyped technology, IMS is convinced that such systems have real potential in industrial applications, adding that the benefits of lower costs and simple remote access to automation infrastructures are "substantial".

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