In 2010, the global market for pneumatic valve blocks increased 18.4% to reach $861.5 million, which represented over 1 billion blocks reaching the international market. Almost half of these products included a facility to be networked. However, according to the latest market report from IMS Research (http://imsresearch.com), for every valve block networked with an Ethernet based protocol, nine were networked with a fieldbus.
The advantages of closed loop communication and intelligent feedback have become increasingly desirable for pneumatic set-ups, and have enabled engineers to reduce air wastage and provide system monitoring and diagnostics. However, the absence of an industry standard network protocol leaves the user with a wide variety of options from which to choose, ranging from supplier specific, proprietary fieldbusses, to universally compatible Ethernet TCP/IP.
Whilst Ethernet is still expected to remain the fastest growing networking protocol for pneumatic valve blocks, by 2015 it is expected to account for only 18% of global pneumatic networking applications, still a long way behind fieldbus technologies.