Powerlink and Profinet are the most used industrial Ethernet protocols for transferring machine and sensor data in true real-time. According to a study conducted by IMS Research, Powerlink now holds eleven per cent of the international market for industrial Ethernet systems, which places Powerlink in fourth place overall, following EtherNet/IP, Profinet and Modbus TCP/IP; however, EtherNet/IP and Modbus TCP/IP are not generally suited to high-speed control of drives.
Furthermore, the Profinet market share of 28 per cent cited in the study subsumes all versions of Profinet, a large portion of which are versions not capable of real-time control. Stefan Schonegger, the Business Manager for Open Automation Technologies at B&R, sees many factors behind Powerlink's success: "When B&R released the Powerlink specification, it was the first real-time protocol that was capable of achieving communication cycles in the microsecond range. This met a newly emerging demand in industrial applications, which led to rapid growth of the new protocol. Additional advantages included its ability to be used on equipment from any manufacturer, its basis in the Ethernet standard and its broad range of performance: Powerlink allows the creation of complete application structures from the drive to the control level, integrating all conceivable network components. Furthermore, heterogeneous network architectures can be implemented with other higher or lower level communication systems."
B&R says that Powerlink provides additional competitive advantages today thanks to open-source licensing and support for developers and users that is provided by the EPSG user organisation.
The report The World Market for Industrial Ethernet - 2009 Edition, by the independent UK-based research organisation IMS Research, contains data about the total quantity of installed Ethernet nodes. The analyses are divided into regions, product groups and industries. According to the study, EtherNet/IP has the largest market share with 30 per cent, followed closely by Profinet with 28 per cent. Modbus TCP/IP is used in 22 per cent of the applications and Powerlink in 11 per cent. All other systems together make up for the remaining 9 per cent. The data was collected using the sales figures for devices from 16 representative groups of industrial commodities.