Automation by the Numbers
The Chinese market for industrial Ethernet and fieldbus technologies grew by 18 million nodes in 2012. More than 3 million nodes used Ethernet, and the remainder used fieldbus technology. Although fieldbus has a large base of new connected nodes in China, it is not as commonly used as in developed countries such as Germany or the U.S. This is mainly because Chinese users are encountering networking technology much later than those in developing countries.
However, the growing speed of Ethernet is considerable in China; there is a great opportunity for Chinese companies to upgrade their automation systems under current market conditions. Companies can jump from old fieldbus technologies directly to Ethernet, as many are now doing. The Chinese market is currently engaged in extensive upgrading and new infrastructure construction, and that will require many Ethernet applications.
In China, international brands are influential. This is also true for industrial networking protocols, because most of them have supporting companies. For example, the most popular fieldbus protocols in China are PROFIBUS and CC-Link, which are developed and promoted by Siemens and Mitsubishi separately. Some open protocols also have a large number of nodes connected; the most representative ones are CANOpen, Modbus, and HART. However, these three protocols do not deliver strong functionality and are more likely to be used in low-end applications for easy connections.
With the upgrading and construction in China, companies, including industrial automation vendors, are also being compelled to upgrade their systems using Ethernet. Most protocols have Ethernet variants. Because of this, many fieldbus users will turn to the Ethernet of the application, for example, PROFIBUS to PROFINET, CC-Link to CC-Link IE. The new automation products will also support those new Ethernet connections.
According to Berg Insight, the shipments of cellular M2M devices in industrial automation reached 760,000 worldwide in 2013. With a compound annual growth rate of 22.5 percent, shipments are expected to reach 2.1 million in 2018. The market is served by players with varying backgrounds. Eaton, Phoenix Contact, Advantech, and Kontron are major providers of industrial automation equipment and are also important vendors of products and solutions featuring embedded cellular connectivity. Industrial network equipment specialists such as Moxa, Westermo, and B&B Electronics are also major vendors of cellular solutions. Other significant vendors include M2M specialists such as Digi International, Calamp, Maestro Wireless, and Viola Systems. Netmodule and eWon are examples of companies with highly specialized offerings targeting the industrial automation industry.
Backbone network communication and remote monitoring are the two largest applications for cellular M2M connectivity within industrial automation. Remote service maintenance and diagnostics of machinery and industrial robots is a major application within factory automation, and real-time monitoring of remote facilities and equipment is one of the most common applications within process automation.
Koch Industries acquired Molex for $7.2 billion. The acquisition was finalized through the merger of Koch Industries’ wholly owned subsidiary, Koch Connectors, Inc., with Molex. As a result of the merger, Molex is now an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries, Inc., retaining its name and headquarters in Lisle, Ill. The current management team will continue to operate the company. Based in Wichita, Kan., Koch Industries, Inc., is one of the largest private companies in the U.S. with annual revenues of about $115 billion. It owns a diverse group of companies. Molex is a 75-year-old global manufacturer of electronic, electrical, and fiber-optic interconnection systems.
The growing demand for customized systems for critical oil and gas applications is brightening the prospects of the European power conversion market in the oil and gas industry. Escalating energy costs and exploration of new oil and gas fields also fuel the uptake of power conversion solutions in the region.
Frost & Sullivan found that the market earned revenues of $908.7 million in 2012 and estimates this to reach $1,151.9 million in 2017. The research covers electric drives and electric motors, with the latter cornering 78.9 percent of the market share. However, electric drives have the higher growth rates due to their high-tech, energy-saving functions and ability to decrease downtime costs through control and efficient rotating assets. They also can reduce the costs of upstream, midstream, and downstream activities.
ABB commissioned four low-speed dual-pinion drive systems at the Detour Lake gold mine in Ontario, Canada. These systems include the largest such mill drives in the world. The low-speed drives operate without a gearbox, with motors driving the pinions directly, increasing overall system efficiency.
ABB’s scope of supply included four systems for two semiautogenous and two ball mills, each consisting of two synchronous motors, converter transformers, and ACS6000 frequency converters. This includes active rectifier units that allow the mill drives to achieve a power factor of 0.90 leading. ABB also delivered the programmable logic controller to control the drives and mill auxiliaries. Each mill drive has a rated power of 15 MW. ABB’s drive systems have variable-speed operation, real-time frozen charge protection, and the frozen charge remover function.