Global revenues from PLCs were nearly 30% higher in 2010 than they were in 2009, reaching more than $8 billion, according to a 2011 edition of IMS Research’s PLC report. This indicates a recovery from the downturn that came much earlier than had been generally expected. Growth continued in 2011, though at a lower rate than in 2010.
After the economic crisis of 2009, most PLC suppliers had been pessimistic about the returning growth of their business, not expecting recoveries to 2008 levels to occur until 2013. PLC business was back on track three years earlier than expected, however; in some countries in developing regions, such as China and India, revenues grew even in 2009.
"Although the recovery was unexpected, it is not hard to explain," said Alex Hong, market research analyst in IMS Research’s industrial factory automation group. "The demand for automation products in many ongoing projects stagnated when investment funding dried up in the economic downturn. However, government economic stimulus in several countries helped to make money more available at different levels of industry."
The customers for PLC manufacturers, mostly builders or users of industrial machinery, had more access to funding to purchase more PLCs and other automation products to continue with their projects. Both the restart of projects discontinued in 2009 and the start of new ones contributed to the high growth of the PLC market in 2010.
Global PLC revenues remained high in 2011, though industrial markets differed by region. In Europe, despite the continuing and worsening Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, Germany (the most important market for industrial automation products) continued to grow at a healthy rate. In the Americas, large projects from some end users and growing domestic demand enabled the PLC market to grow, though the market in Latin America is still underdeveloped. In Asia, the markets in the growing economies of China and India have performed quite well, though that of Japan was affected by the earthquake earlier in the year. In general, the growth of the global economy in 2011 underpinned the global growth of the PC market.
PLC suppliers and their industrial customers are uncertain whether growth will continue into 2012. Many factors—including Europe’s unresolved sovereign debt crisis, tightening economic policy in China, and the consequences of the earthquake in Japan and the recent floods in Thailand—are affecting the market.
IMS Research contends that the PLC market will continue to grow in 2012, mainly because many large and important PLC markets, such as Germany, France, China and the U.S., are still performing well. In addition, emerging markets, such as Brazil and India, which already account for half the entire PLC market, will be the main driving force for future growth.