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Wireless market could double in size, but users still have doubts

14 October, 2012

The European market for wireless automation equipment generated sales worth $218m in 2011 and will more than double in size to at least $539m by 2016, according to a new forecast from Frost & Sullivan. But the analyst warns that a user perception that wireless devices are a non-critical improvement is threatening to limit their level of penetration.

To many users, wireless technologies offer connections that are already provided by wires that could last another decade. Moreover, Frost says, plant managers do not yet perceive wireless technology as leading to significant improvements in production processes.

“End-users need to realise that wireless technology not only replaces wires, but has the potential to reshape and optimise production processes,” says Frost & Sullivan research analyst, Anna Mazurek. “Vendor efforts to promote the technology have fallen short, particularly among the more reluctant potential wireless adopters.

“Wireless devices reduce maintenance costs, boost productivity and improve quality of production,” she continues. “At the same time, initial implementation does not require vast restructuring or expensive machinery replacement. This combination of plant optimisation, quick return-on-investment and easy installation, is highlighting the benefits of industrial wireless automation.”
Frost argues that industrial wireless devices can optimise the operation of plants through better asset allocation and machine health monitoring. The devices offer easy communications and instant access to real-time data which supports enhanced operational flexibility and mobility.
But it adds that wireless device manufacturers need to educate end-users not only about the technology, but also on the range of benefits and opportunities offered by wireless communications.
“Most importantly, end-users will need to be educated on how the technology can be tailored to address their particular needs,” Mazurek suggests. “The market needs another 4-5 years of pilot applications and technology trials to address all pending concerns about the technology performance and to convince end-users of the advantages of deploying industrial wireless devices.”

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