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Europe and North America diverge on networking

01 November, 2003

The European and North American markets for industrial networks are taking different directions, according to a pair of new market surveys. The studies*, from the market analyst IMS Research, show that Profibus has the lion`s share of the European market, with an estimated installed base at the end of 2002 of 5.5 million nodes, while in North America the leader is Modbus with an estimated 4.0 million installed and active nodes.

The surveys also reveal major differences in the likely future direction of the two markets, especially for the industrialised forms of Ethernet which are gaining ground over traditional Ethernet TCP/IP.

In Europe, ProfiNet and Ethernet-Powerlink are strong contenders while in North America, GM`s recent decision to standardise on Ethernet/IP has give this technology a fillip.

The studies predict steady, rather than meteoric, growth for Ethernet in industrial applications.

In Europe, less than a third of the companies quizzed are already using Ethernet for PLC-to-PLC communications, but in North America, the figure is above 50%. By 2006, around two-thirds of the respondents on both sides of the Atlantic expect to be using Ethernet in this way.

IMS senior market analyst John Morse points out that "many of the industrialised variants of Ethernet are relatively new to the market and so it is difficult to predict the winners and losers at this early stage".

* The European and North American Markets for Industrial Networking is published in two volumes (one for each region), costing from £3,495 each.

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