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Ethernet adoption in process automation sees two-fold growth

Posted: 06 Jun 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Ethernet? networking? process industry? fieldbus?

Ethernet nodes in process industries are set to see two-fold growth from 2011 to 2016. According to IMS Research, a market analyst firm part of IHS, the upward trend is due to Ethernet's increasing popularity as an alternative for fieldbus in the industrial networking market.

IMS Research's "The World Market for Industrial Ethernet and Fieldbus Technologies - 2013 Edition" report notes that industrial Ethernet nodes in process industries are projected to rise to 8.7 million units in 2016, up a whopping 96 per cent from 4.4 million in 2011. This means that industrial Ethernet will account for 45 per cent of networked nodes connected in process industries in 2016, up from 39 per cent in 2011. Such growth will come at the expense of fieldbus, anticipated to expand at a rate of 51 per cent during the same five-year period.

Ethernet market growth

World market for industrial Ethernet & Fieldbus (Market share and new nodes connected)
2011 and 2016 market share percentage (thousands of new nodes connected)
Source: IMS Research (Part of IHS), June 2013

"The process industry is renowned for being slow to adopt new technology," said Tom Moore, analyst for industrial Ethernet and fieldbus technologies at IHS. "However, in some key areas, industrial Ethernet adoption is beginning to overtake fieldbus as the mainstream networking technology."

A good example within the process sector is safety. Although not always driven by compulsory legislation, process safety systemsi.e., safety integrated systemsare updated fairly regularly by companies that want to ensure operator safety and maximise line up-time. This shorter life cycle means that new technologies can break into the market more quickly and are easier to implement, as there is greater opportunity for refreshing the network upon refitting. (See Engineers aim for real-time automotive, industrial Ethernet)

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