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Sales of industrial Ethernet surge, but fieldbuses still lead

25 February, 2016

Sales of industrial Ethernet technologies are growing faster than ever before and now account for 38% of the global market for industrial networks, according to the latest annual analysis by the Swedish industrial networking specialist, HMS.

Using its own sales figures, combined with several market reports, HMS reckons that sales of industrial Ethernet have grown by about 20% in the past year. EtherNet/IP is the biggest seller, accounting for about 9% of total global networking revenues, followed by Profinet on 8%. The runners-up are EtherCat (on 6%), Modbus-TCP (4%) and Ethernet Powerlink (3%).

However, classic fieldbuses still dominate the fragmented industrial networking market with 58% of sales and an annual growth rate of 7%. Profibus is the best-selling fieldbus technology, accounting for about 17% of the total networking market, followed by Modbus on 7%, CC-Link on 6% and DeviceNet on 5%.

“We see evidence of an accelerated transition towards industrial Ethernet when it comes to new installed nodes,” says HMS' marketing director, Anders Hansson. “However, industrial automation is a conservative market and it will take time before industrial Ethernet outgrows fieldbuses.”

HMS has included wireless technologies in its figures for the first time, estimating that they account for just 4% of the market at present, but are expanding at an annual rate of about 20%. WLANs account for 2% of the total networking market, followed by Bluetooth on 1%.

“We see the Internet of Things as being a big driver for wireless technologies,” says Hansson. “Wireless opens up new automation architectures and is increasingly being considered for machine connectivity and control, including “bring your own device” solutions via tablets or smartphones.”

Fieldbuses still dominate the global industrial networking market, but Ethernet technologies are growing faster, according to HMS

In Europe and the Middle East, Profibus is the leading networking technology, while Profinet is the fastest-growing. Runners-up are EtherCat, Modbus-TCP and Powerlink.

The US market is dominated by the CIP networks, with EtherNet/IP overtaking DeviceNet in terms of market shares. according to HMS' figures.

In Asia, no network stands out as being truly market-leading. Profibus, Profinet, Ethernet/IP, Modbus and CC-Link are all widely used, HMS reports.

“What is completely clear is that the networking market remains fragmented as customers continue to ask for connectivity to fieldbus, industrial Ethernet as well as wireless networks,” Hansson concludes. “All in all, industrial devices are getting increasingly connected, boosted by trends such as the Industrial Internet of Things and Industry 4.0.”

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