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Controller market hits $9bn as PLCs morph into PACs

05 June, 2008

Strong economic growth in Asia and Eastern Europe helped to boost global sales of PLCs (programmable logic controllers) to almost $9bn in 2007, says a new report from the ARC Advisory Group. While this economic expansion is expected to continue, future growth will be slower, and ARC predicts that the worldwide market for PLCs will grow at a CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) of 6.5% over the coming five years, to reach more than $12bn by 2012.

ARC PLC graph

According to the report’s principal author, ARC senior analyst Himanshu Shah, the growth of the PLC market has been propelled by emerging economies, such as those in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) as well as Eastern Europe. This growth has been "driven by increasing consumer demand from the growing middle class in those countries, adding new infrastructure within those countries to boost their quality of life, and a positive environment for capital investments in emerging markets," he says.

According to the PLC Worldwide Outlook report, manufacturers in industries such as chemicals, cement, metals, pharmaceuticals, and textiles, are responding to globalisation by investing in new capacity. Building automation is also experiencing strong growth with massive commercial, industrial, and residential building projects underway around the world.

ARC says that the market is increasingly demanding programmable automation controllers (PACs) – multi-disciplinary controllers, capable of providing real-time logic, motion, and process control, as well as HMI and other functions. The PAC market is forecast to grow faster than the PLC market as whole, and ARC suggests that most of today’s small and large PLCs as well as some micro PLCs, will morph into PACs. Pure PLCs will remain at the nano level and some of the micro level.

ARC points out that PLC applications cut across discrete, process, and hybrid automation segments, and are poised for steady growth. Manufacturers, aware of the need for more automation, as well as the need both to both produce and save energy to cope with rising energy demands and costs, are increasingly using PLCs, the report says.

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