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Lean automation solutions to see high growth over next five years

World sales revenue of operator terminals with embedded PLC hardware will rise from $94 million in 2011, to approximately $140 million in 2016; a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 9 percent over the period.

The largest vertical sectors for these products in 2011 were estimated to be food, beverage and tobacco machinery; machine tools and packaging machinery.

Collectively, these sectors accounted for approximately 35 percent of sales revenue.  The largest unit shipment growth is also forecast to come from the food and beverage machine builder sector, with annual shipments increasing by more than 5,000 between 2011 and 2016.

Mark Watson, senior research analyst, comments “There are two principle advantages for OEMs using operator terminals with embedded PLC hardware: price and footprint.

"Every component has an associated cost and space requirement. By combining two systems into one, both factors are reduced.

"This enables further savings as the combined unit doesn’t require extra wiring to communicate between sub-systems and maintenance departments only need to support one product type.”

Watson continues, “That said, the advantage is most significant for small machines where price and space are at a premium.

"Manufacturers of larger machines typically have the space and the budget to adopt a traditional solution of separate operator terminal and PLC units.

"This solution also provides flexibility in terms of the component supplier of each unit and enables OEMs to cherry pick the most suitable two components for specific applications.”

This operator terminal type is forecast strong revenue growth to 2016.  However, average selling prices are projected to decrease by approximately 3 percent per annum to 2016.

Suppliers of operator terminals with embedded PLC hardware, such as Pro-Face, Unitronics and Horner APG, will therefore have to work hard to maintain revenue growth as price pressure drives down selling prices over the next few years.

(Image courtesy Ben Earwicker.)

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