Programmable logic controllers (PLC) are the central nervous system for automation in production, where, equipped with modern electronics, they are now on a level with powerful industrial computers.
Programmable logic controllers (PLC) play a crucial role in the electronics industry for automating production processes. They enable companies to respond quickly to changes in demand or technology, while at the same time ensuring the quality of the products. Other important applications are in building automation, power generation, or traffic control.
Robustness, millisecond response times, long life cycles, IT security, and, not least, the hardware base installed by the millions will also be an argument for PLC in the future. What’s more, modern systems increasingly meet requirements regarding IT functionality (OT meets IT), machine-to-machine (M2M), data exchange standards (OPC UA), cyber security, the integration of cloud and edge functionality, and smart information processing.
The operating principle of programmable logic controllers has not changed since they were first launched. They receive input signals (sensors, switches, etc.) from systems and machines, process them sequentially and cyclically using programmed logic (typically in milliseconds), and then use the results to activate corresponding output signals for actuators such as motors, valves, and relays.
For the global PLC industry, the analysts from Mordor Intelligence project an increase from USD 11.75 billion this year to USD 14.46 billion by 2028, with an average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.23 percent. In the same year, the IMARC Group expects revenue of USD 20.2 billion.
Mordor Intelligence estimates the European PLC market in 2023 at USD 3.41 billion. By 2028, the market should increase to USD 4.01 billion with an average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.29 percent. Europe’s higher investments in industrial IoT (IIoT) also resulted in the continent maintaining its lead ahead of the United States and Asia. In addition, digitalization and Industry 4.0 drove forward the use of automation to improve production processes in European industries.
According to the analysts, the Asia-Pacific region is showing the highest growth, especially China, where the manufacturing sector is rapidly evolving in the context of IIoT and Industry 4.0. This large-scale transformation will put the country in one of the leading positions worldwide in the PLC market.
In India, by contrast, government initiatives are driving forward factory automation and the use of PLC-based systems to increase the share of manufacturing in GDP.
The PLC market is highly competitive and comprises multiple relevant players. With regard to market share, only a few “major” players are currently dominant. Among them are also exhibitors from the last electronica, such as ABB, Schneider Electric Se, Siemens AG, or Omron. Numerous other exhibitors, such as Analog Devices, NXP, Infineon, Renesas, Micron Technology, or Maxim Integrated also provide specific semiconductor solutions for programmable logic controllers.
They promise to revolutionize automation across industries in the future with innovations and new technologies. Whether it's IIoT integration, edge computing or AI applications and enhanced cybersecurity, PLCs are becoming more powerful, intelligent and connected. Going forward, companies will need to keep pace with these emerging trends to realize the full potential of PLC technology.