The trend in industrial networks and the automation market

From Gefran magnetostrictive sensors to the Industrial Ethernet solutions of the future

Today, industrial communication in industrial automation is the real strategic lever to increase a company's productivity and efficiency

Communication in industrial automation is now the real strategic tool for increasing a company’s productivity and efficiency because it provides an effective way to transmit quality data between different automation systems, to control machines and synchronization, monitor production lines, etc.

How was this achieved? And what will tomorrow’s trends be?

In the 1940s, process instrumentation was generally understood as pressure measurement to control devices in the factory. In the 1960s, sensors were developed to monitor process quantities via retransmission of a 4-20 mA signal in proportion to the measurement.

The 1980s saw the first smart sensors with digital outputs, which required digital integration. Over the years, the devices installed on industrial systems and on machines increased in number and functional complexity. A new paradigm became necessary: the fieldbus.


Solutions with fieldbuses offer a number of important advantages, such as integration in complex systems with significant communication distances, as well as fast and secure data transmission.

Another design requirement in this new data transmission philosophy is the concept of communication managed by means of a common standard to guarantee integration of devices from different manufacturers.



Industrial Ethernet

new system of industrial communication based on Ethernet was introduced in the 1990s, and became highly successful because it offered real-time communication, scalability, and flexible management.

The analog method (4-20mA or voltage) is still widely used, especially where machine architecture is simple and compact.

Nevertheless, since the fieldbus was invented, many solutions have been launched on the industrial communications market, stimulated mainly by the need to satisfy a variety of functional demands rather than by brand differentiation influenced by major international automation companies.



The current picture and the industrial communication trend in 2015

With regard to solutions available on the world market, the following figure shows the current situation and the 2015 trend in communication in industrial automation.

Industrial automation accounts for 37% of the automation market; sectors not included in this statistic are building automation (36%) and process automation (27%).

The principal data emerging from this analysis is that the spread of new industrial connections is driven by constant growth of both the fieldbus and industrial Ethernet solutions, with a rising trend in Ethernet.

Considering the new nodes installed, fieldbuses are growing by about 7% a year and are still the most popular networks, with 66% of the market.

The principal fieldbus is Profibus (with 18% of the world market, including industrial Ethernet), followed by Modbus (7%), DeviceNet (6%), and CC-Link (6%).

Industrial Ethernet networks account for 34% of the market and are growing faster than fieldbuses (17% a year). Profinet and EtherNet/IP are the two largest Ethernet networks, each with 8% of the market, followed by EtherCat, Modbus-TCP, and Powerlink.



And Gefran?

Applying these numbers to Gefran – and specifically to magnetostrictive linear position transducers – the offer in terms of interface signal consists of the following:

  • Analog
  • Start-Stop
  • SSI
  • Profibus
  • CanOpen

These solutions are available for all types, i.e., with profile design and with threaded head rather than flanged head.

Gefran is also working on Industrial Ethernet solutions, which will expand the current catalog with new features for magnetostrictive transducers. Don’t miss the latest developments!