The automation hardware market is undergoing a significant change as it adapts to the growing digital transformation in manufacturing. Manufacturers are now attempting to identify best-of-breed offerings, leveraging the increasing openness of products and integrating these different assets into a comprehensive overarching solution.
Next-generation Human Interfaces (HMIs), Industrial Personal Computers (IPCs), and Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) are essential to deploying modern factory architecture, and each market will see strong growth over the next ten years.
The PLC market is the largest industrial automation hardware segment with sales projected to reach US$30 billion by 2033. "PLC market growth is driven by new manufacturing requirements, such as for smart connected products, EVs, and battery manufacturing. New production techniques and a "digital-first" mindset are also encouraging new automation solutions like software-based PLCs," explains James Prestwood, industrial and manufacturing industry analyst at ABI Research.
Software-based PLCs are an increasingly notable vector of transformation for the PLC market. This trend is best encapsulated by Siemens’s announcement of SIMATIC S7-1500V, a virtual PLC completely independent of hardware that is downloaded and integrated directly into a manufacturer’s IT environment.
Siemens, Mitsubishi Electric, Rockwell Automation, Emerson, and ABB are among the largest players in the industrial automation hardware market, representing around 42% of the total market share. However, the market is also characterised by other prevalent market players such as Omron, Phoenix Contact, Honeywell, Bosch Rexroth, and Beckhoff.
ABI Research identifies large PLCs (controllers with over 1024 Inputs/Outputs (I/Os) as having the most robust growth compared to other PLC classes (Micro, Small, and Medium), with a CAGR of 6.1% and revenues of US$5.6 billion by 2033.
"As manufacturers continue to adopt automation solutions with complex architectures, which increasingly demand powerful PLC assets, large PLC controllers are the ideal solution, rather than using multiple smaller PLCs to achieve similar results," Prestwood concludes.