Ethernet grows but Fieldbus is alive and well!

Ethernet is on the rise and is growing faster than Fieldbus, but overall Fieldbus usage is still greater than Ethernet.

12/09/2011


Another year of information gathering is concluding with the issue of the communications reports. Ethernet, in its various guises continues to increase its share of the market. Just looking around at the publicity and products on view at exhibitions might lead you to believe that it will swamp the market in a few years and fieldbuses will be consigned to the history books. My view is that this will not happen; the evidence for a wholesale switch to Ethernet based technologies is not there. Sure a few companies have seen good growth, I don’t doubt that but node-for-node, Ethernet will gain a few per cent share over the next 5 years.

Figure 1 shows for fieldbuses and Ethernet based protocols, the number of nodes estimated to have been installed in industrial automation networks in 2010 worldwide. At first glance it seems that fieldbuses are expected to forge ahead but in fact their share of the total market is falling.

Figure 1 shows for fieldbuses and Ethernet based protocols, the number of nodes estimated to have been installed in industrial automation networks in 2010 worldwide. At first glance it seems that fieldbuses are expected to forge ahead but in fact their sh

Figure 2 shows the forecast growth rates for 2011 to 2015 and these clearly show that Ethernet growth will slow only a little till 2014 then start to show signs of levelling off. Over the same period the fieldbus growth rate is expected to fall each year, picking up a little in 2015.

Figure 2 shows the forecast growth rates for 2011 to 2015 and these clearly show that Ethernet growth will slow only a little till 2014 then start to show signs of levelling off. Over the same period the fieldbus growth rate is expected to fall each year,

It may come as a surprise to some people that fieldbuses are still growing as fast as they are but there are several reasons why this might be.

  • Ethernet has yet to make an impact at field level; despite high growth rate being reported, the actual numbers are low when compared to nodes connected at control and supervisory level. Ethernet is frequently seen as over complex for use at field level as well as adding extra cost to the device. There are a lot of devices at field level!
  • Fieldbuses are generally much simpler to use.
  • Fieldbuses were in common use 20 years before Ethernet was considered seriously for industrial use, hence there are a lot of legacy systems and the associated knowledge base.
  • New “non-Ethernet” communication technologies and enhancements to existing ones are being added to the list all the time, e.g. I/O Link, AS-Interface, USB, FireWire etc. Some industries have their own favourites: machine vision has CameraLink and CoaXpress; building automation has BACnet and LonWorks.
  • There are many proprietary communication technologies in use today. This is particularly true in Asia, especially Japan, where the adoption of Ethernet in industry has been slow. 

Profile photo of John Morse, a senior analyst for IMS Research. Courtesy: IMS ResearchSo in conclusion; Ethernet grows but fieldbus is alive and well! All the signs are that this will continue for the foreseeable future. Ethernet and its many variants is another story, subject to its own set of rules and trends. Watch this space for the next exciting chapter!



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
The true cost of lubrication: Three keys to consider when evaluating oils; Plant Engineering Lubrication Guide; 11 ways to protect bearing assets; Is lubrication part of your KPIs?
Contract maintenance: 5 ways to keep things humming while keeping an eye on costs; Pneumatic systems; Energy monitoring; The sixth 'S' is safety
Transport your data: Supply chain information critical to operational excellence; High-voltage faults; Portable cooling; Safety automation isn't automatic
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Maintaining low data center PUE; Using eco mode in UPS systems; Commissioning electrical and power systems; Exploring dc power distribution alternatives
Synchronizing industrial Ethernet networks; Selecting protocol conversion gateways; Integrating HMIs with PLCs and PACs
Why manufacturers need to see energy in a different light: Current approaches to energy management yield quick savings, but leave plant managers searching for ways of improving on those early gains.

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.