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Drives propel growth in industrial networking

12 March, 2012

The market for industrial networking is growing strongly with much of the growth coming from networked drives, according to a new report from IMS Research. It estimates that 31 million new fieldbus and Ethernet nodes were installed worldwide in 2011 and forecasts that this number will grow by an average of 10% a year, to more than 45 million new nodes by 2015.

In the EMEA region and the Americas, the fastest-growing area for new network connections will be for servo and inverter drives. By 2015, around 3.5 million new inverter drives and 0.8 million new servodrives will be networked – equivalent to a growth rate of 11.8% a year
“These new network nodes will grow so fast because of the high growth in shipments of servo and inverter drives,” explains Graham Brown, IMS market analyst and author of The World Market for Industrial Networking – 2011 Edition. “Drive shipments are growing quickly in all regions, although the industry sectors creating this growth differ by drive type and region. The adoption of medium-voltage drives, for example, is growing in the oil and gas industry; while growth in shipments of servo drives is in the machine-tool industry.”
IMS is seeing a steady increase in the proportion of drives that are network-enabled and connected. If the current focus on focus on improving energy efficiency in factories is implemented in legislation, it says, the number of new networked drives will probably increase substantially because they offer an effective means of improving efficiency. However, it does not expect this to happen before 2015.
The study predicts that large numbers of networked drives will be shipped in the Asia-Pacific region, partly because of many new greenfield projects in that area. IMS suggests that 4.3 million new servo and inverter drives will be networked in the region by 2015, producing a growth rate of more than 15% a year – significantly higher than the global average.
“This is not surprising,” says Brown. “Since 2009, several countries in Asia – especially China – have enjoyed strong economic growth. Heavy spending on industrial and infrastructure projects means that markets for several industrial products – particularly operator terminals and industrial PCs – are also growing quickly, at over 14% a year. This suggests that the strong growth already seen in automation and, in turn, industrial networking in Asia Pacific, is likely to continue.”

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