The world market for I/O modules, especially for Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)I/O modules, recovered quite strongly after the recession with double-digit growth in both 2010 and 2011, according to a new report from IMS Research. However, the report found recovery of the Distributed Control System (DCS )I/O market was somewhat slower.

I/O modules, which are mostly used with controllers, are essential components in complex industrial automation systems. IMS Research says by adding more I/O modules, the scope and flexibility of an entire automation system can be enhanced. PLCs, for example, can move toward their control capability to the field level by adding remote I/O modules. There are many active vendors in this market, including suppliers of a complete range of automation products and specialists, which mainly provide I/O modules.

Broadly, I/O modules can be segmented into three categories by controller type (PLCs, DCS and industrial PCs), the most commonly used products in industrial automation. The world recession hurt the industrial automation market, with the market for each controller type falling more than 20 percent from 2008 to 2009. The I/O market also decreased due to the lower demand for controller products.

“The recovery since 2010 was quite exciting,” commented market analyst Alex Hong, in a prepared statement. “As the entire I/O module market has benefited from the recovery of the controller market, especially that for PLCs.” The entire I/O module market grew more than 20 percent in 2010, and more than 10 percent further in 2011. The main contribution to growth came from PLC I/O modules because of blooming machine-builder markets, IMS Research reports.

Machine builder markets, especially in Europe and Asia, hold a strong position. Because they use PLCs widely, the demand for the I/O modules, which are attached to the PLCs, also enjoyed strong growth. On the other hand, demand for process automation has lagged somewhat. Cash flows for those projects were cut off because of the recession and this situation continued even into 2011. Thus, the market for DCS I/O modules, which is closely associated with the process industries, grew slower than that for PLC I/O modules. However, worldwide PLC I/O module revenues make up more than half of the total I/O module target, which thus had quite strong growth.

“Overall, the I/O module market will still benefit from a growing PLC market in the foreseeable future,” Hong said. However, growth in the PLC and DCS I/O module demand will differ, mirroring the differing performance of the discrete and process automation markets.”?

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