According to a recent report from ARC Advisory Group, the market for industrial PCs is driven by an increasing rate of technological advances in hardware and software. This includes the Atom processor, increased computing power, increased ruggedness, and the use of fail-safe industrial PCs. The market had enjoyed high growth rates until the recent economic recession.
The report adds the industrial PC market structure is fragmented, with no dominant regional or global player. While industrial PC technology itself has matured, new applications and requirements will enable differentiation through hardware and software.
"In 2009, the market dropped by 19%. Even though the recovery will start quickly, the level of the boom year 2008 will not be reached again until 2012. A major factor dampening the recovery is the constant drop in prices that is driven by user demand and a drop in intermediate good prices," according to analyst Florian Güldner, the principal author of ARC's "Industrial PCs Worldwide Outlook."
Market Will Remain Competitive and Fragmented
The market for industrial PCs remains fragmented, the companies above 2% market share represent only 62% of the market. In addition to industrial PC product specialists, such as Stahl HMI, the market includes focused automation suppliers, such as Phoenix Contact, full-line automation suppliers, such as Siemens and Rockwell Automation, and PC-based automation suppliers, such as Beckhoff and B&R. Furthermore, PC specialists, such as Advantech and Kontron, plus hundreds of Taiwanese companies supply industrial PC products either directly to the market or to other industrial PC suppliers.
Atom Processor Will Boost Business
Various trends within the industrial PC market will affect future growth, but Intel's Atom processor will have the most influence. The Atom processor provides up to 2 GHz with low thermal design power. This offers various possibilities to end users and machine builders. First, the low-cost, low-power Atom enables low-CPU power industrial PCs at a low price and with low energy consumption and low heat. Size-independent computing power also makes possible new form factors, such as flatter panel PCs that are more easily integrated into machines and small wide screen panel PCs.
Asian Markets Are Most Vibrant
Asia has its own dynamics in its investment climate and in industrial PC supply and demand. In Asia, Taiwanese industrial PC suppliers dominate this price-driven market, which slowed sharply along with the global economy. Taiwan hosts a number of different companies, which range from component-driven companies that are moving up the supply chain to established automation suppliers. ARC believes that China and India will not only demand more automation equipment as wages rise, but will also shift towards more sophisticated systems with greater capabilities for achieving international quality standards.