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Fieldbuses fall below 50% of the industrial networking market

27 February, 2017

Fieldbuses now account for less than half of the global industrial networking market for the first time, according to the latest analysis by the Swedish networking specialist, HMS. During 2016, fieldbuses represented 48% of installed nodes, down from 58% in 2015, while industrial Ethernet technologies accounted for 46%, up from 38%.

HMS’s analysis, based on its own sales figures, its perception of the market, and “insights from colleagues”, show that the number of industrial Ethernet nodes installed last year grew by 22%, compared to 20% in 2015. Ethernet/IP and Profinet lead the global industrial Ethernet market with similar shares, with Profinet dominating in Europe and Ethernet/IP leading in North America. Runners-up globally are EtherCat, Modbus-TCP and Ethernet Powerlink.

Wireless technologies account for a modest 6% of the total networking market, but are the fastest-growing segment with 32% year-on-year growth. WLANs account for 4% of the networking market, followed by Bluetooth on 1%.

Fieldbuses are still the most widely used type of industrial communications with many users liking their simplicity and reliability, according to HMS. Sales are still growing – by 4% in 2016, compared to 7% in 2015. Profibus dominates the global networking market with around 14% of all nodes installed last year, followed by Modbus-RTU and CC-Link, both on 6%.

Profibus is also the best-selling networking technology in Europe and the Middle East, while Profinet is the fastest-growing in these regions. In the US, Ethernet/IP has overtaken DeviceNet in terms of market share.

How the global industrial networking market breaks down, in terms of nodes installed, according to HMS. The figures in brackets are for 2015.

In Asia, the market is fragmented and there is no clear market-leader, but Profibus, Profinet, Ethernet/IP, Modbus and CC-Link are all used widely. EtherCat continues to establish itself as a significant network in the region, HMS reports, with CC-Link IE Field also gaining traction.

“It is interesting to see that industrial Ethernet and wireless combined now account for more than half of the market,” comments HMS’ marketing director, Anders Hansson. “The transition to industrial Ethernet is driven by the need for high performance, integration between factory installations and IT systems, as well as the IIoT.

“Wireless is increasingly being used by machine-builders to realise innovative automation architectures and new solutions for connectivity and control,” he adds, “including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solutions via tablets or smartphones.”

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