The market for industrial networking is alive and well, according to a new report from IMS Research, Austin, that says an estimated 31 million new fieldbus and Ethernet nodes were installed worldwide in 2011. This number will grow by an average of 10% a year, to just over 45 million new connected nodes in 2015, say analysts. The World Market for Industrial Networking - 2011 Edition forecasts that within EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) and the Americas, new connected nodes will grow fastest in servo and inverter drives — at roughly 11.8% each year, resulting in 3.5 million inverter drives and 0.8 million servo drives being connected to a network in 2015.

“Drive shipments are growing quickly in all regions, although the industry sectors creating this growth differ by drive type and region,” explains analyst Graham Brown. “The adoption of medium-voltage drives, for example, is growing in the oil and gas industry, while growth in shipments of servo drives is taking place in the machine tool industry.”

Although shipment growth is a key factor, IMS is also seeing an increase in the percentage of drives that are network-enabled and connected. Today's focus on improving energy efficiency in factories is largely due to the potential reduction in operating costs it offers, as well as pending legislation. Networked drives offer an effective means of improving overall factory efficiency.

Many more networked drives are forecast to be shipped in the Asia Pacific region, partly because of new industrial projects. IMS projects that there will be about 4.3 million new servo and inverter drives networked in this region, equating to a growth rate of more than 15% a year, significantly above the world average.

“This is not surprising,” notes Brown. “As of 2009, several countries in Asia, especially China, have enjoyed strong economic growth. Heavy spending on industrial and infrastructure projects means that markets for several industrial products, particularly operator terminals and industrial PCs, are also growing rapidly at over 14% a year. This suggests that the strong growth already seen in automation, and in turn industrial networking, in Asia Pacific is likely to continue.”

For more information, visit imsresearch.com.