Industrial Recovery Gauged by Controller, I/O Module Installation

July 9, 2012
By adding more I/O modules, the scope and flexibility of an entire automation system can be enhanced, says IMS Research. So sales of programmable logic controllers (PLC ) and distributed control system (DCS ) I/O modules are a good indicator of recovery.

Sales of programmable logic controller (PLC) I/O modules are up "quite strongly after the recession," with double-digit growth in both 2010 and 2011, whiles sales of distributed control system (DCS ) I/O was somewhat slower, according to IMS Research.

I/O modules, which are mostly used with controllers, are essential components in complex industrial automation systems. By adding more I/O modules, the scope and flexibility of an entire automation system can be enhanced, says IMS market analyst Alex Hong. PLCs, for example, can move towards their control capability to the field level by adding remote I/O modules.

There are many active vendors in this market, including as suppliers of a complete range of automation products and specialists which mainly provide I/O modules. Broadly, I/O modules can be segmented into three categories by controller type (PLCs, DCS and industrial PCs), the most commonly used products in industrial automation. "The world recession hurt the industrial automation market, with the market for each controller type falling more than 20 percent from 2008 to 2009. The I/O market also decreased due to the lower demand for controller products," says Hong. However, "the recovery since 2010 was quite exciting. As the entire I/O module market has benefited from the recovery of the controller market, especially that for PLCs.” The entire I/O module market grew more than 20 percent in 2010, and more than 10 percent further in 2011. The main contribution to growth came from PLC I/O modules because of blooming machine-builder markets.

Machine builder markets, especially in Europe and Asia, are big buyers of I/O. Because they use PLCs widely, the demand for the I/O modules attached to the PLCs has shown strong growth, says Hong. "On the other hand, demand for process automation has lagged somewhat. Cash flows for those projects were cut off because of the recession and this situation continued even into 2011. Thus, the market for DCS I/O modules, which is closely associated with the process industries, grew slower than that for PLC I/O modules."

Additional topics covered in the 2012 edition of the I/O report include:

• Detailed revenue and unit shipment information for local and remote I/O modules.

• The market for each product type segmented by region, control system type and functionality.

• Further detail on the PLC I/O module market, with statistics on protection level and product types.

• Detailed industry breakdowns for PLCs and DCS, segmented by machine builder and end-user sector.

• Top-level data on industrial ethernet and fieldbus use with I/O modules.

• Market share estimates for 2010 and 2011 for the leading providers of each I/O module product type.

• Commentary and analysis discussing key market drivers.

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