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HMI-PLCs will gain in popularity and drop in price

17 September, 2012

Global sales of operator terminals with embedded PLCs will climb from $99m in 2011, to around $148m by 2016 – equivalent to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 9% – according to a new forecast from IMS Research.

Average prices for the terminals are expected to fall by about 3% per annum over this period. IMS suggests that leading suppliers, such as Pro-Face, Unitronics and Horner APG, will therefore have to work hard to maintain revenue growth. 

In 2011, the main markets for terminals with embedded PLCs were: food, beverage and tobacco machinery; machine tools; and packaging machinery. Together, these sectors accounted for about 35% of sales revenue. The biggest growth market for unit sales between 2011 and 2016 is expected to be the food and beverage machine-builder sector, with annual shipments increasing by more than 5,000 over this period.

According to IMS senior research analyst, Mark Watson, there are two main advantages for OEMs of operator terminals with embedded PLC hardware – price and footprint. “Every component has an associated cost and space requirement,” he points out. “By combining two systems into one, both factors are reduced. This enables further savings as the combined unit doesn’t require extra wiring to communicate between sub-systems and maintenance departments only need to support one product type.

“That said,” Watson adds, “the advantage is most significant for small machines where price and space are at a premium. Manufacturers of larger machines typically have the space and the budget to adopt a traditional solution of separate operator terminal and PLC units. This solution also provides flexibility in terms of the component supplier of each unit and enables OEMs to cherry-pick the most suitable two components for specific applications.”

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