25 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

PLC suppliers re-invent themselves as `solutions providers`

As PLCs from rival suppliers become closer in terms of performance and appearance, the suppliers are increasingly trying to reposition themselves as “solution providers”, a new report from IMS Research says. Although this trend started several years ago, the growing importance of the need to share information has accelerated the trend, IMS adds, and is helping suppliers to differentiate themselves from their rivals.

PLCs are therefore playing an increasingly important role in integrated automation systems which help users to make business decisions based on information they obtain from the plant floor. By integrating a PLC into a complete system, it becomes not just a single controller, but an extension of the enterprise-wide computer system, IMS suggests. In addition, integrated automation systems including PLCs can also perform tasks such as motion and process control, maintenance, vision, visualisation, and integration with higher-level systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP).
 
IMS reports that the market for integrated automation systems incorporating PLCs is growing faster than the traditional standalone PLC market, although it currently accounts for only a small proportion of the total PLC market and mainly involves high-end PLCs.

The use of PLCs in integrated systems is helping suppliers to differentiate themselves from their rivals, IMS says, and to win more “industry automation” business to augment their traditional PLC business.