JULY 30--The Industrial Ethernet market will grow rapidly for at least the next five years, according to automation-analysts IMS Research (Wellingborough, England, and Austin, TX; www.imsresearch.com). This is many times the growth of the automation industry in general and reflects an increase in networking generally and a shift to Ethernet-based protocols, as users seek a universal networking technology.
The latest research from IMS, which covers Europe and North America, estimates that, 221,800 industrial Ethernet infrastructure components were shipped in North America in 2003, and this number is forecast to more than double by 2008. Among the many additional predictions made, is the demise of hubs in favor of switches. Industrial Ethernet enabled devices, such as PLCs and HMIs, are expected to experience similar growth to that of the infrastructure components.
IMS Research also looked at the complex issue of the different mix of Ethernet-based technologies available. Senior market analyst John Morse commented, "Any manufacturer that wants to be a part of the industrial Ethernet explosion must be able to offer connectivity to the traditional Ethernet TCP/IP protocol. In addition, for maximum impact in North America producers should think carefully about EtherNet/IP. Connectivity to other Ethernet-based technologies is a bonus at this time."
However, Morse went on to warn, "it must not be forgotten that the speed of change in this complex market is far greater than is normally experienced for the industrial automation industry and the situation can change very quickly. Producers and users should aim to keep regularly abreast of the latest developments in this important area."