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The world market for programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and directly associated software and services was estimated to have been worth USD7.8bn in 2009, according to a report by IMS Research.

The report, entitled ‘The Worldwide Market for PLCs – 2009 Edition’, forecasts that the market will not recover to the 2008 level until the second half of 2012.

No region has been insulated from the effects of the economic downturn.

The Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, the largest market for PLCs, has been the worst affected.

The main factor behind this is that Germany, the most important market for PLCs in the EMEA region, suffered the largest contraction during the global recession.

After a sharp fall in the German export business, improvement in activity is forecast to be slower than elsewhere, especially until the middle of 2010.

Conversely, the 2009 market contraction was the least marked in Asia; this market is forecast to grow the fastest from 2008 to 2013, with a revenue compound annual growth rate of 6.0 per cent.

This is a result of improved prospects in China and India, in part reflecting substantial macroeconomic stimulus, and a faster-than-expected turnaround in capital flows.

PLC revenues contracted badly in almost all sectors of industry in 2009.

However, a few markets were less affected by the economic downturn, including electrical power, transportation and water treatment supporting infrastructure development.

These markets were largely helped by various government stimulus packages, which helped to create demand for automation products such as PLCs.

Sectors closely associated with consumer goods, such as food, beverage and tobacco machinery and packaging machinery, and a few emerging industries, such as renewable energy, also helped to sustain demand for PLC products.

These are all forecast to grow globally over the 2008-13 period.

The consensus of many major PLC suppliers is that market recovery is expected to begin slowly in 2010, as government investment filters through to many more of the discrete and process industries that use PLCs.

However, recovery is unlikely to be V shaped and the coming year will remain challenging for the global PLC suppliers, according to the report.

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