JUNE 27--An upswing seems likely in the European automation market for components where the PLC function is embedded. This is a conclusion from a recently published report by IMS Research (Wellingborough, UK; www.imsresearch.com), a supplier of market studies on industrial automation.
Key findings from a survey of purchasers and specifiers of industrial automation components included
- More than three-quarters of respondents were aware of products being offered with embedded PLCs. Since the market for these is currently very small, this is encouraging news.
- More than two-thirds of respondents either purchased some embedded PLC products today or planned to do so within the next three years.
- Nearly all (>95%) respondents believed that embedded PLCs would cost less than separate PLC solutions and that embedded PLC components would cost less to install.
- Profibus-DP, Ethernet TCP/IP, and CANopen were the most popular communication protocols used by respondents with hardware with embedded PLCs.
- Nearly 90% stated that communication with other embedded PLCs and a program backup facility to a PC were important; nearly 80% stated that remote monitoring from a separate PLC was important.
One concern raised by survey responses was a widespread lack of awareness of the importance of IEC-61131 and IEC-61499 programming standards. Thispoints to a need for stronger promotion from the manufacturers and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).