According to a new research report from the analyst firm Berg Insight, the shipments of cellular M2M devices in industrial automation reached 760,000 worldwide in 2013. Growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.5 percent, shipments are expected to reach 2.1 million in 2018.
The market is served by a multitude of players with varying backgrounds. Eaton, Phoenix Contact, Advantech and Kontron are major providers of industrial automation equipment and are also important vendors of products and solutions featuring embedded cellular connectivity. Industrial network equipment specialists such as Moxa, Westermo, B&B Electronics are also major vendors of cellular solutions. Other significant vendors include M2M specialists such as Digi International, Calamp, Maestro Wireless and Viola Systems. Netmodule and eWon are examples of companies with highly specialised offerings targeting the industrial automation industry.
Backbone network communication and remote monitoring are the two largest applications for cellular M2M connectivity within industrial automation. Remote service maintenance and diagnostics of machinery and industrial robots is a major application within factory automation and real-time monitoring of remote facilities and equipment are one of the most common applications within process automation. High capacity LTE networks will further increase cellular adoption in industrial automation, even in control applications. However, connectivity requirements vary depending on the application and cellular is part of a mix together with other technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, WirelessHART and ISA100.
“Increasing automation levels and rising wages in emerging markets are changing the global manufacturing landscape. To stay competitive, companies in developed regions need to find strategies beyond moving production to low-wage countries.” said Johan Svanberg, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight. Flexible and lean production lines will be key in manufacturing going forward. “Wireless M2M solutions can play an instrumental role in connecting resources, equipment and systems which can provide the actionable data required to efficiently manage complex product mixes and highly volatile production volumes” concluded Mr. Svanberg.
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