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Market study on Industrial Ethernet: POWERLINK on top among real-time protocols

POWERLINK and PROFINET are the most used industrial Ethernet protocols for transferring machine and sensor data in true real-time. According to a recent study conducted by the independent market research institute IMS Research, POWERLINK now holds eleven percent of the international market for industrial Ethernet systems. This places POWERLINK in fourth place overall, following EtherNet/IP, PROFINET and Modbus TCP/IP; although EtherNet/IP and Modbus TCP/IP are not suited for high-speed drive control.

Furthermore, the PROFINET market share of 28 per cent cited in the study subsumes all versions of PROFINET, a large portion of which being non real-time capable versions of the Siemens protocol.

Stefan Schönegger, Business Manager for Open Automation Technologies at B&R, sees many factors behind POWERLINK’s success: "When B&R released the POWERLINK specification, it was the first real-time protocol that was capable of achieving communication cycles in the microsecond range. This met a newly emerging demand in industrial applications, which led to rapid growth of the new protocol. Additional advantages included its ability to be used on equipment from any manufacturer, its basis in the Ethernet standard and its broad range of performance: POWERLINK allows the creation of complete application structures from the drive to the control level, integrating all conceivable network components. Furthermore, heterogeneous network architectures can be implemented with other higher or lower level communication systems."

POWERLINK provides additional competitive advantages today thanks to open-source licensing and support for developers and users that is provided by the EPSG user organization.

Background behind the study:

The report "The World Market for Industrial Ethernet – 2009 Edition" by the independent UK-based research organization, IMS Research, contains data about the total quantity of installed Ethernet nodes. The analyses are divided into regions, product groups and industries. According to the study, EtherNet/IP has the largest market share with 30 per cent, followed closely by PROFINET with 28 percent. Modbus TCP/IP is used in 22 per cent of the applications and POWERLINK in 11 per cent. All other systems together make up for the remaining 9 percent. The data was collected using the sales figures for devices from 16 representative groups of industrial commodities.

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