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Most Chinese users of PLCs tend to favour foreign brands; however, the proportion of domestic PLC is forecast to rise slightly, according to the results of a China-focused market report from IMS.

Alex Hong, market analyst, said: ‘For historical reasons, Chinese domestic PLC suppliers entered the market much later than foreign brands.

‘The well-established distribution channel and brand awareness of foreign PLCs hindered the entry of domestic suppliers.

‘Technology is no longer a problem,’ Hong added.

‘Local PLC suppliers are now capable of producing their own high-end PLC products.’ However, accessing a suitable customer base has often been shown to be a limiting factor, as high-end PLCs are usually sold as a part of a more complete control system with other automation components, such as operator terminals, motor drives, industrial PCs and motion controllers.

Local PLC suppliers cannot offer a complete production line like their large foreign competitors.

As a result, local suppliers are tending to put more effort in serving machine builders, who are willing and able to purchase simpler PLC products as commodities.

With limited finance and research ability, local suppliers are trying to find their own path to avoid conflict with powerful foreign suppliers.

Usually targeting a niche market, a number of domestic companies are taking advantage of their cheap labour force to offer a solution to their clients.

The solution is usually combined with several different automation components as a small system, in line with the users’ requirements, at an affordable price.

Domestic PLC brands are estimated to account for less than five per cent of the total China market.

However, its share is forecast to grow in the near future.

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