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The industrial automation market is one that is set to be in constant growth for many years. There are plenty of reason for this, the most basic ones go around the fact that the industry is always in need of process optimization and revenue. Right now, they are obtaining this by looking for ways to reduce shutdown time as little as possible, and this come at hand with optimum error handling and a more skillful workforce.
Of course, having a skillful workforce is not easy to control, that is why another trend of the market is making PLCs based systems easier to use. In general, the modernization of the market is what they are aiming for; it is not a secret that technology in the consumer world advances faster than in the industrial sector. Although, this doesn’t mean the industrial sector is not looking to make more advanced devices, is just that they won’t do it at the expenses of reliability and long-term installations.
At the end of the day, as long as the industry have problems to be solved, the PLC market is going to keep growing. And this growth is actually certain due to the fierce competition between the bigger names of the market. Below, we will list the top PLC manufacturers that are leading the PLC market at the moment. This should give a lot of insight to what are the most important trends and what is the actual path that they are building.
Based in Zurich, Switzerland, ABB has become one of the most important companies in the world of engineering. It was formed by the fusion of two companies in 1988, ASEA, and Brown, Boveri and Cie., and a few years ago, they acquired B&R, a very important company in industrial automation. It is worth noting that ABB has been constantly named as one of the most innovative and sustainable companies of the last few years.
ABB offers a complete package of PLC solutions for different sectors of the industry thanks to their AC500 line of scalable PLCs. This includes an excellent option for a more economical solution in smaller applications in the form of the AC500-eCo, the AC500-S as their option for safety applications, and the AC500-XC for extreme conditions.
The electrical division of the Japanese giant conglomerate, Mitsubishi, has been steadily gaining space in the market in the last decade. This has been thanks to their continuous offering of quality products at competitive prices, with the addition of improved support services. In earlier years, Mitsubishi Electric would be criticized mostly because of their poor documentation translation and customer support.
The line of MELSEC PLCs offer a huge range of products for many different applications, this might actually be one of the wider in the industry in just one generation. They offer from top-of-the-line PLC with the iQ-R series, to a much cost effective and compact devices in the F series. Between these categories they also have options for safety and mid-range devices, besides of a premium compact model in the iQ-F series.
Schneider Electric is one of the PLC manufacturers that has been in the business for the longest. With over 135.000 workers they are present worldwide in more than 100 countries, with a bigger presence in the heavy and electrical industries. Not only that, they are known to invest constantly in R&D, and have opened a new office facility in Maharashtra that represents their continuous growth.
Schneider actually offers an amazing line of controllers, with the smaller of them being the Zelio Logic SR2/SR3, an incredible easy to use controller for simple applications with 10 to 40 I/Os. From this point, Schneider offers options for the following range of applications in the form of the Modicon line of PLC and PAC controllers, including next generation, safety, and I/O ready devices.
The American giant keeps having incredible trust from their costumer, until the point of most of them not wanting to change of suppliers even when the situation calls for it. And there are many reasons for that, one of them being the excellent costumer and services support they have been offering since the beginning. Allen Bradley, the first instance of Rockwell, came to be in 1903, making them veterans in the industry.
This trust intensifies by the fact of being an American company offering quality products for most of North America, one of the biggest markets in industrial automation. Their lines ControlLogix, CompactLogix, and MicroLogix have big renown and trust in the industry. This should not be a surprise since these are products of great quality with all the features most companies need.
The Siemens AG conglomerate is one of the biggest companies worldwide, period. They have been forming part of the market of different sectors of the industry, and common consumer sector. Of course, the industrial automation sector is part of their interest, and for the last few years have been one of the principal protagonists in this.
Their PLC selection is not as wide as some of their competition, but they do offer great quality and range of features in the solutions they focus on. The SIMATIC S7-1500 offers a future proof solution thanks to its modular nature and high performance. Then the SIMATIC S7-1200 offers a better approach for lower to medium range applications looking for full featured devices. Lastly, they have their line of distributed controller for distributed designs and small spaces.
Founded in 1890, Emerson is even older than Allen-Bradley, but they have never been a big name in the PLC market. Although, they have been offering other solutions like motors, alternators, dedicated control systems, and other. This changed in 2019 when they acquired General Electric’s platform in charge of their PLC technologies, giving them an edge in the PLC market.
This edge came in the form of the famous lines of PAC and compact PLCs, PACSystems and VersaMax respectively. These lines offer a huge range of solutions for different applications, VersaMax in particular is a great option for compact solutions, robust, and modular solutions, a favorite when it comes to learning and mobile operations.
Honeywell is a well-known American company that operates in a wide range of sectors of the industry, including the sector for home and common consumer products. In the industrial automation, Honeywell have been providing their costumers with high quality products and edge technologies for many years. Between these technologies the industrial internet of things is the most important for Honeywell, and it is offered in their ControlEdge line of products.
Omron is Japanese company known for a few interesting milestones, like being the company that built the first automated entry door. They are a company that sells electronic systems, components and equipment, this includes the industrial automation sector. But they are mostly known by their medical electronic equipment.
Their line of PLCs has an interesting focus on compact implementations, offering high performance devices for small spaces in their CP line of products. That doesn’t mean that they can’t offer solutions for bigger installation, they offer their standard CJ2M line of PLCs, and their even bigger and more capable CS1 CPU.
Panasonic is a name that most people are used to see in the common consumer sector, since it is one of the most important companies of technology and general electronics. In fact, Panasonic also have a variety of products in specialized sectors, from the electronic components market, to the industrial automation market.
Panasonic offers quality products in their lines of PLCs, this line ranges from premium to compact solutions. These PLCs have all the features needed by most plants and are programmable with just piece of software since 1995. This is a huge reason for them to be in this list, since longevity and ease to upgrade is really important in the business.
Founded in 1886, this German giant is one of the biggest companies spread in different industry sectors, and has different subsidiaries that specialize in others. Before 2001 Bosch did have their Automation Technology Business, but it was merged with Mannesmann Rexroth AG, resulting in Bosch Rexroth AG. This is the subsidiary in charge of the industrial automation sector for Robert Bosch GmbH.
Bosch offers top of the line options for industrial automation installations. They have their CML line, which is a classic PLC line with as many features as possible and modularity in mind. On the other hand, the XM series offer a more compact, but robust solution, with the possibility of adding modules to create a complete automated system. It is worth noting their VPB series, which offers a PLC system connected to a PC control solution, having the best of both worlds at hand.
Today is really hard to differentiate a PLC from a PAC, some companies even have them categorized in the same way. This is because of how well featured PLCs are nowadays, Bosch even offers a PC – PLC solution. This shows how important is for these companies to offer a wide range of products, to be able to suffice not only the larger plants and projects, but also the mid-range and lower-end necessities of the industries.
Have in mind that this list has no particular order at the moment of picking a PLC supplier, they all have their pros and cons. Their positions were based on how well placed they are in the market. This a very competitive business and there is a specific demand depending on the needed solution, sometimes you don’t need a brand for how big they are, but for the solutions they offer.
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