ARC Advisory Group in Dedham, Mass., has released studies on personal-computer-based controllers and enterprise resource planning software.
ARC predicts the PC-based, open-control software will grow 24 percent a year through 2006. Most software suppliers now offer more than basic programmable logic controls, and offer features such as links to a factory database, a Web server, schedulers and functions for running computer numerically controlled equipment.
As factories move into an age of Internet-powered collaborative manufacturing, it will become critical to have a network of intelligent sensors to collect shop-floor data. According to the report by Dick Slansky, ARC senior analyst: “The long-elusive promise of 'sensor-to-boardroom' connectivity will be realized as these Web-related open-control systems are put in place.' ”
A second report, by ARC Vice President Steve Clouther, analyzes the market for ERP systems, which tie together all factory data. The ERP market got a huge boost from Y2K fears, but then sales fell off a cliff. Sales hit about $15 billion in 1999, as Tier 1 firms with sales of more than $1 billion invested heavily in new systems. In 2001, ARC said, sales fell to $9 billion.
Despite the economic downturn, the market will rebuild over the next five years and reach $9.5 billion by 2006. Software vendors expect growth in Tier 2 and 3 firms. Meanwhile, after-sales service has become very important.
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