The recent market for programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and PLC-based programmable automation controllers is what representatives from the ARC Group are calling a “sobering picture.”

According to ARC Group, the market has stagnated during the past three years and is at the same level in 2013 as it was in 2011. While previous growth levels reached 7 percent per year, the ARC Group says 2014 will remain at the level it was in 2013.

However, PLC suppliers searching for new opportunities to grab a piece of the market could trigger price pressure and innovation. ARC says many suppliers work closely with OEMs and end-users to further develop their technology and gain an advantage over their peers. 

“The technological developments are increasingly shifting away from PLC-centric hardware,” says Florian Güldner, the principal author of ARC’s “PLCs and PLC-based PAC Global Market Research Study.” “The differences in cycle time, scalability or CPU become marginal.  This is why suppliers increasingly invest in software to achieve differentiation and avoid cutthroat price competition.”

The PLC study provides a current analysis of the market and a five-year market and technology forecast.

Questions addressed in the study include:

How can suppliers increase their value proposition?

Are different strategies required for new installations vs. retrofits?

Will new distribution channels be required?

How critical is initial cost in relation to lifecycle cost?

How will niche market products impact the total market?

ARC says that, in recent years, many PLCs have evolved into programmable automation controllers (PACs), which integrate logic, motion and safety control with cybersecurity and even energy management functionality within a common platform.

Today, the majority of PLC revenues worldwide come from PLC-based PACs; these revenues are growing at a faster rate than that of traditional PLCs. Suppliers are integrating more functionality into their PLCs, many of which have been developed into PACs. According to ARC market research, while PACs accounted for around 40 percent in 2007, they accounted for approximately 60 percent in 2013 and will account for over two-thirds in 2018.

More information on the study can be found here.