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uring 2004, Venture Development Corp. undertook a comprehensive survey of industrial machine builders, system integrators, and end users regarding their use of both wireless and wired Ethernet. Readers of Industrial Networking were among those participating in the survey.
We are reporting the findings of the survey in two parts. First, we take a quick look at the overall market, identify where current activity and future growth are centered, and then begin to identify user preferences that emerged from the data. In Part II, to be published in our summer issue, we’ll explore current and emerging protocols, connectivity issues, and a host of selection criteria.
The products covered in the study included industrial-grade “wireline,” (wire-based), interconnect products such as connectors, cable/cord sets and distribution boxes; networking components such as bridges, console servers, device servers, distributed/remote I/O, fiberoptic transceivers, gateways (protocol servers), hubs, modems, multiplexers, routers and switches; and network software for analysis and management function.
For wireless, the products covered included antennae, access point/networking components such as bridges console servers, device servers, distributed I/O, gateways (protocol servers), hubs, modems, repeaters, routers, switches, and transceivers; and software for network management and analysis.
First, we can state the obvious: It’s evident from the results of this survey, as well as industry observation, that the use of networking continues to expand in industrial facilities for both facility infrastructure (HVAC, lighting, security, etc.) and for operations in the facilities. Functionally, communications, monitoring and control are provided over the networks. Most of this expansion is associated with wire-based (including fiberoptic) networks with a smaller, clearly developing market for wireless types.
Much of this growth is related to the use of Ethernet--the basis of this study. Estimated worldwide shipments and forecasts through 2006 indicate a 22% annual growth to $1.6 billion for wire-based products, and a 35% annual growth rate to $183 million for wireless Ethernet infrastructure products. The high growth rates forecasted are linked to the perceived advantages of using Ethernet versus other network technologies, and the advantages of using wireless networks.
Perception Grows Reality
The perceived advantages of Ethernet, according to respondents, are:
The perceived advantages of a Wireless implementation:
Commercial vs. Industrial-Grade
Ethernet infrastructure components installed in industrial facilities can be exposed to a variety of environments, depending on the application and industry involved. In some cases, components are kept in rooms or areas away from harsh environments or housed in ruggedized enclosures. In these cases, commercial-grade products might meet user needs, as there is less chance these would be damaged by harsh environments. In other cases, however, the infrastructure components must be located on the plant floor, outside, or in other harsh environments where commercial-grade products might have unacceptable reliability. As a result, there are Ethernet infrastructure components available for use in these conditions. In addition to physical protection characteristics, industrial-grade Ethernet infrastructure products also must provide a high degree of availability and reliability.
Worldwide, the study found that largest consuming markets for wired-network-based Ethernet infrastructure products in the study are in order:
These accounted for about 54% of total worldwide shipments.
For Wireless products the largest consuming markets are:
Combined, these accounted for nearly two-thirds of total worldwide shipments.
The fastest growing worldwide industry market segments, in ranked order are seen to be:
For Wire-based Products:
For Wireless Products:
User Requirements and Preferences
This study surveyed end users, OEMs, and system integrators about their needs and preferences in the product areas under study. These are some of the more significant findings:
Wire-based vs. Wireless Ethernet--When asked how they would contrast wire-based versus wireless Ethernet solutions for their industrial applications, 40% of the users most identified the signal security provided by wire-based, and lack of signal interference was mentioned by 34%. The third most-cited advantage of wire-based Ethernet was wider bandwidths.
The benefits most cited for wireless Ethernet were greater location flexibility (17%), use for mobile applications, suitability for remote locations, and ease of installations.
User views on the relative cost of wire-based versus wireless Ethernet were mixed, with 16% of respondents indicating that the wireless hardware is more expensive. There were no contrary views. The largest share of the users (32%) indicated that wireless has lower installation costs. A smaller share indicated that wireless is less expensive if the networking is for large areas, long distances, and remote locations.
Twelve percent of respondents indicated that maintenance costs on wireless networks are lower. However, some also said wireless has higher operating costs because of downtime resulting from lower reliability.
The largest share of users indicated that wire-based networks are less expensive. Some indicated that wireless is less expensive if the location covered is not easily accessible.
The most-cited reasons for choosing wire-based Ethernet were high reliability and high security. Cost was the third most-cited factor. Keep in mind that the users also might have considered other non-Ethernet wire-based and/or wireless networks. Wire-based Ethernet solutions can be considerably less expensive than these because of the extensive use of wire-based Ethernet components and products in non-industrial facility markets.
The most-cited reason for choosing wireless Ethernet was for use with mobile applications such as wireless interfaces to portable terminals used by operators, maintenance personnel, and engineers. The second most-cited reason was flexibility in ease of expansion and relocation provided by wireless Ethernet networks, followed by the ability to provide long distance/remote coverage.
In Use Now
Most wire-based Ethernet users said they currently use 10-Mbps Ethernet and/or Fast Ethernet (100 Mpbs) networks. Only a small portion of the respondents (8%) use 1,000 Mbps (Gigabit Ethernet). However, the results indicate Gigabit Ethernet use is expected to approach 60% by 2006.
Among the wireless Ethernet users, the largest share (56%) indicated current use of the IEEE 802.11b standard in their industrial facilities. Only 20% of the respondents identified use of IEEE 802.11g, although this standard is expected to be used by nearly three-quarters of the respondents in 2006.
Among wire-based Ethernet users, the "network" and "transport" layer protocol, TCP/IP was, not surprisingly, most identified as being used and is expected to be used by the largest share in 2006. EtherNet/IP was the most identified "application layer" protocol, for both 2003 and 2006.
Among these users, larger share of use is expected for a broad range of protocols in 2006. The largest increase is expected for the XML (Extensible Markup Language) protocol, followed by Profinet, and Foundation Fieldbus HSE.
Among the wireless Ethernet users, HTML (HyperText Markup Language) was most identified (82%) as a protocol being used. It also is expected to be used by the largest number is 2006, although only by 66%. Fifty-six percent of the user respondents expect to be using the XML protocol in 2006, compared with 27% in 2003.
In the summer issue of Industrial Networking, we’ll continue with the results of questions regarding trends in types of systems for communication connectivity, summarize performance and feature requirements learn what respondents say about their selection criteria.
|About the Author|
ControlGlobal.com is exclusively dedicated to the global process automation market. We report on developing industry trends, illustrate successful industry applications, and update the basic skills and knowledge base that provide the profession's foundation.