Growth predicted in industrial Ethernet devices market

Industrial Ethernet brings together a complex mix of participants. Plant engineering, IT, and independent systems integrators become involved. Ethernet technology is rapidly penetrating the device level of the automation hierarchy. This provides one of those rare opportunities where a new technology can upset the supplier landscape.


The worldwide market for industrial Ethernet devices is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 51.4% over the next five years. The market totaled 840,000 units in 2004 and is forecasted to total just over 6.7 million units in 2009, according to ARC Advisory Group’s new "Industrial Ethernet Devices Market Outlook Study." This market study includes revenue for industrial Ethernet switches, which had worldwide sales of $124.4 million in 2004 and is expected to grow to $939.8 million in 2009 for a CAGR of 49.9%.

Ethernet provides users an industrial network that has a lower total cost of ownership with improved adaptability for their changing business needs. This, combined with widespread availability and market familiarity, continues to drive Ethernet's use in industrial automation applications for a broad range of industries.

"Ethernet technology is rapidly penetrating the device level of the automation hierarchy. This provides one of those rare opportunities where a new technology can upset the supplier landscape," according to Research Director Ralph Rio, principal author of the study.

Ethernet devices supported by a vast infrastructure

The aggregate market for industrial Ethernet devices has grown substantially during the last few years despite a difficult market for automation equipment in most areas. The use of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies makes the application of Ethernet to industrial networking significantly easier for pilot projects, system extensions, application development, and new automation systems.

Devices and systems that support Ethernet and the Internet protocol suite leverage the vast IT infrastructure. This includes a variety of products including switches, firewalls, network management tools, development tools, and messaging standards.

Industrial switches and environmental protection

While some may start with a cheap office-grade switch purchased at a local retail computer outlet, they soon learn the importance of reliability in an industrial environment. One trip to the plant manager's office to explain why a $30 home office switch brought down production becomes a hard lesson.

Protection for a factory environment requires resilience against heat, vibration, power line noise, dust, and other factors. Currently, most industrial Ethernet switches are rated IP20 to IP40. ARC forecasts an increase in the need for IP67 to IP68 as industrial networking expands deeper into process control applications for those industries where liquids are present.

User survey indicates who buys what

Industrial Ethernet brings together a complex mix of participants. Plant engineering, IT, and independent systems integrators become involved. The user survey helps clarify who is key in the design, purchase, installation and maintenance of an industrial network. User preferences for industrial Ethernet have a few surprises. The ARC user survey shows that price, while a consideration, has not proven to be a key differentiator.

Source: ARC Advisory Group


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