PLC - BRANDS
The RevPi Compact is an open source compact controller based on the Raspberry Pi. Equipped with the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+, the control system has a quad-core processor with 1.2 GHz, 1 GB RAM and 8 GB eMMC flash memory. The open platform concept (including full root rights) allows the user maximum freedom of design when implementing his projects. To connect sensors and actuators, the RevPi Compact is equipped with eight digital and analog inputs as well as eight digital and two analog outputs. Two Ethernet interfaces (each with its own MAC address) enable the device to be integrated simultaneously in two different networks. The device also has a 4-pole RS485 interface with screw terminals.
The low profile design allows the device to be installed in sub-distribution systems, which are commonly found in building automation. The operating system used is an adapted Raspbian with a real-time patch. Individual applications can be programmed via Node-RED, Python or directly in C. The popular industrial protocols Modbus RTU and Modbus TCP are supported as standard. Those who do not want to program themselves can optionally use professional soft PLC and SCADA software for control and visualization.
Rockwell Automation acquired Allen Bradley for approximately $1.6 billion in 1985. It was a lot of money back then, and it would be a lot of money now. But the value of Allen Bradley is raised by the fact that it is a historic brand founded in 1903, the same year as Rockwell.
In fact, the two American firms have always been somewhat intertwined and followed the same path on their journey to become what is now, as a combined unit, one of the world’s largest industrial automation companies.
Its PLC offerings range from large down to tiny “nano” systems. Its market capitalization is $25 billion and its annual revenues around $7 billion.
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With a market cap of around $28 billion, Mitsubishi Electric is one of the larger business units of the gigantic conglomerate that is the Mitsubishi Group, with a staggering 350,000 employees.
In 2017, Mitsubishi Electric’s annual revenue was $37 billion, which is obviously more than its current market cap, so there have been ups and downs.
Nonetheless, it is one of the largest manufacturers of PLCs, with arguably the widest range, and its Japan headquarters are in a region where fast growth is predicted.
Arguably not as well known outside of the industrial sector as others in this list, partly because it doesn’t have any consumer products of note, Schneider Electric is nonetheless a leading provider of PLCs.
Modicon, one of Schneider Electric’s brands, is believed to have produced the first PLC in the US back in 1968. Then, through a series of mergers and acquisitions, Schneider Electric emerged in 1999.
Today, Schneider Electric – a French company – employs 135,000 people, has a market cap of around $55 billion, and generates annual revenues of more than €27 billion.
The Swiss-Swedish industrial giant has enjoyed spectacular success in recent years, at least in terms of the flair with which it has launched many new products – from what it describes as “the world’s first truly collaborative robot”, the two-armed YuMi, to its industrial internet of things platform, Ability.
And its $50 billion market cap, $28 billion annual revenues, and 144,000 employees, shows that there’s plenty of substance behind the style.
ABB is also one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial robots, so it follows that it has a wide range of PLCs on offer.
This Japanese company often launches hundreds of products in one go, and is something of a specialist in PLCs, although it has quite a wide range of offerings, including industrial robots and sensors.
Omron’s PLC range includes micro as well as modular versions and, all told, it has probably has the highest number of individual devices.
The company, which was founded in 1933, employs almost 40,000 people and has a market capitalization of approximately $14 billion, with annual revenues of more than $8 billion.
Hitachi Industrial Equipment Systems
Hitachi used to be globally famous back in the day when we were all carrying boom boxes around on one of our shoulders, playing Fight the Power way too loud, occasionally putting it down to do some break dancing.
But these days, Hitachi mostly confines itself to the industrial sector, where it has developed many advanced computing technologies, although it still does a nice line in smart televisions. Its PLCs range from general purpose ones to more specialized, ultra-fast versions designed for plant engineering.
Still a giant with a $36 billion market cap, Hitachi employs significantly more than 300,000 people and generates annual revenues of almost $90 billion a year. Note that the coronavirus pandemic may be the reason for the market cap currently being significantly lower than its annual revenue for 2019.
Bosch is probably the most famous name on this list, being as it is one of the world’s leading suppliers of home appliances such as washing machines, fridges and whatnot.
The automation technology business unit of Bosch merged with Mannesmann Rexroth in 2001. Hence Bosch Rexroth, which has more than 33,000 employees and has annual revenues in the region of €5.5 billion.
Its PLC range includes Windows-based, IoT-enabled systems with modular options, and features things like Ethernet-based real-time communication with the automation bus Sercos as well as synchronized motion control functionality.
Koyo Electronics Industries
This Japanese company was established in 1955, having started out making radios, and now specialises in industrial automation technology, such as PLCs and other electronic control devices as well as imaging and automotive systems. Its Direct Logic brand of PLCs sits alongside other brands such as its Kostac PLC, and make for a relatively wide range of products for the market. The market capitalization of its parent company, JTEKT, is in the region of $2.7 billion. JTEKT, in turn, is owned by Toyota.
The sheer breadth of this Taiwanese company’s activities is quite impressive, stretching from industrial robots to smart buildings, much of which requires PLCs for their smooth operation.
Consistent with its diverse activities, the PLCs it offers are many and varied, and include modular systems as well ones which are “hot swappable”, which means they can be replaced without halting the entire operation.
Its market capitalisation currently stands are more than $16 billion, and it employs more than 83,000 people, who generate annual revenues of around $9 billion.
Another one of those venerable names in the industrial sector, Eaton was established way back in 1911. Today, it employs more than 100,000 people and has annual revenues of around $21 billion. Its market cap is currently almost $37 billion.
Eaton’s business units cover aerospace, automotive, and of course the industrial sector, where perhaps it is best known for hydraulics, clutches and transmission systems.
Eaton emphasises user-friendliness with its PLCs, with its Easy PLC range, as well as the modular capabilities of XC and XN devices.
Panasonic used to be a massive consumer electronics company but hasn’t been as prominent in the desktop and mobile computing eras.
It still does a nice line in TVs and has a strong presence in the industrial sector, where it offers an extensive range of PLCs, from entry level, compact devices to high-powered modular and scalable versions.
The company employs a massive 270,000 people who generate annual revenues of $75 billion. Its market cap is in excess of $23 billion.
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