Industrial Ethernet’s Ascension

July 8th, 2013 by

By Brian Carter
VP Strategic Communications

I’m not at all surprised by IMS Research’s projected growth rate of Industrial Ethernet use for motor drives and motion controllers; or its prediction that Industrial Ethernet will supplant field buses and become the dominant networking technology in industrial environments

In a recent report, IMS, which provides research and in-depth market insight to OEMs, component manufacturers and systems suppliers in the industrial space, said it expects the Industrial Ethernet motion solutions’ market share to grow from 12 percent in 2011 to 21 percent in 2016. And it forecasts that Industrial Ethernet use for motor drives and motion controllers will more than triple by 2016 – from 2011’s 1.8 million new connected nodes.

Moreover, the IMS analysis suggests  that within 10 to 15 years, industrial Ethernet will be the dominant networking technology in industrial environments and almost all components will offer Ethernet connectivity as standard.

My prediction is that Industrial Ethernet’s ascent to dominance will happen in less than a decade because of the compelling reasons for adoption.

  • Organizations want a single network in their plants for both enterprise business systems and machine control networks. Today’s Ethernet motion network protocols, notably EtherCAT, can provide deterministic solutions suited for high-speed motion control applications. When you combine that capability with the availability of commercial Ethernet hardware, inexpensive Cat5 cable, and users familiarity with the technology, you get rapidly accelerating market uptake.
  • Ethernet is also quickly gaining ground in industrial markets, which are famously slow to adopt new technology, because of the growing realization that it can help to lower costs (particularly cabling costs), boost performance, allow for scalability and increase safety.

A recent comment by a chairman of several Ethernet protocol efforts, is also telling. “Historically, the industrial companies made network components that met their needs, but “they don’t want to be in the network business anymore. They are making 100 Mbit devices now, but going to Gbit is a big deal, so they would rather just buy the part”.

With so many market trends propelling Industrial Ethernet forward, it will overtake field bus technology and capture the lion’s share of the Industrial market even sooner than the IMS report forecasts.

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