Shipments of cellular M2M devices used in industrial automation are set to rise from 760,000 this year to 2.1 million in 2018, according to new research from Berg Insight.
The market-research company says that the rollout of high-capacity LTE networks will further increase cellular adoption in industrial automation, even in control applications, although it points out that connectivity requirements vary depending on the application, with technologies like WiFi and Zigbee proving popular in certain environments.
At the moment, backbone network communication and remote monitoring are the two largest applications for cellular M2M connectivity within industrial automation, but remote service maintenance and diagnostics of machinery and industrial robots is a major application within factory automation.
Berg Insight also notes that the market is fiercely competitive, with Eaton (Dublin, Ireland), Phoenix Contact (Blomberg, Germany), Advantech (Taipei, Taiwan) and Kontron (Eching am Ammersee, Germany) all providing industrial automation equipment as well as products and solutions featuring embedded cellular connectivity.
Industrial network equipment specialists including Moxa (Brea, CA, USA), Westermo (Stora Sundby, Sweden) and B&B Electronics (Ottawa, IL, USA) are also major vendors of cellular solutions.
Other vendors include M2M specialists like Digi International (Minnetonka, MN, USA), Calamp (Oxnard, CA, USA), Maestro Wireless (Hong Kong) and Viola Systems (Turku, Finland), while Netmodule (Niederwangen, Switzerland) and eWon (Nivelles, Belgium) have highly specialized offerings targeting the industrial automation industry.
“Increasing automation levels and rising wages in emerging markets are changing the global manufacturing landscape,” said Johan Svanberg, a senior analyst with Berg Insight.
“To stay competitive, companies in developed regions need to find strategies beyond moving production to low-wage countries.”
According to Berg, flexible and lean production lines will be hugely important factors in future.
“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,” said Svanberg.