Global revenues from PLCs (programmable logic controllers) in 2010 were nearly 30 percent higher than in 2009, reaching an estimated 8.2 billion (USD), according to IMS Research’s report “The World Market for PLCs – 2011 Edition.”

The recovery from the downturn happened much earlier than expected, according to the report. Most PLC suppliers had been pessimistic on their future business after the economic crisis of 2009 and thought their business would not recover to the level of 2008 until 2013. However, their business was back on track three years earlier than they had expected; in some countries in developing regions, such as China and India, revenues had grown 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, in a prepared statement. “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, according to IMS Research. 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 have remained high in 2011, although at a lower rate than in 2010, according to IMS Resarch. However, the industrial markets differed by region. In Europe, despite the continuing and worsening Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, the most important market for industrial automation products – Germany – 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 Americas is still underdeveloped. In Asia, the markets in the growing economies of China and India have performed quite well, though that of Japan was hit by the consequences of the earthquake earlier in the year. In general, the growth of the global economy in 2011 underpinned the global growth of the PC market.

The report shows PLC suppliers and their industrial customers are currently very uncertain whether growth will continue into 2012, considering the risks to the world economy. Many factors, such as 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. However, IMS Research believes that the PLC market will still grow in 2012, mainly because many large and important PLC markets, such as Germany, France, China, and the United States are still performing well at the turn of the year. 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.