Market Studies

Plastic Optical Fiber (POF)
In Industrial Controls

Release: June 27, 2011


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The industrial control networking, automotive, and consumer data link markets are converging at data rates of 100Mbps and higher. From 10Mbps to 400Mbps, plastic optical fiber (POF) and polymer clad silica (PCS) solutions for high-speed short- and moderate-distance data links are cost competitive with copper cable. POF is superior to copper cable in providing low data errors in electrically noisy environments. The convergence is being driven by three major forces:

  1. The integration of Ethernet with the field bus standards for industrial control networks in factory automation applications;

  2. The hardening of components for automotive applications makes them suitable for use in industrial applications;

  3. The extension of IEEE-1394 (FireWire) to higher data rates and longer distances in the consumer electronics market.

The worldwide total POF market was estimated at $1,336 million for 2007, growing to over $3.2 billion in 2011 and $4.7 billion by 2015.

POF and PCS cable have been used in industrial control networks for over 15 years, Many proprietary networks were configured on the factory floor to connect controllers to devices and sensors to monitor data and provide simple control feedback to production lines. Growth accelerated when standards organizations such as ControlNet, Interbus, Profibus, and SERCOS adopted POF and PCS as low-cost link media for electrically noisy and performance-critical applications. The next generation of industrial control networks has moved to 10/100Mbps Industrial Ethernet, operating over extended temperature ranges and harsher environments. Organizations such as ODVA, ControlNet International, ProfiNet, and Interbus Club are defining interface specifications to integrate Ethernet with the widely deployed DeviceNet, ControlNet, Profibus, Interbus, and other field bus standards. In addition to the move to higher data rate use of Ethernet, the all-fiber-optic standard of SERCOS has doubled its data rate to 16Mbps from 8Mbps .

The traditional technology for low-cost fiber-optic data links used in industrial control, consumer electronics, interconnect, and automotive applications has been transmitters using 650nm red LEDs, silicon PIN diode detectors, and SI-POF or PCS fiber-optic cable. The approximate cost of a 10-meter data link is currently $30 and has not changed much for the last five years. However, with the acceptance of POF and the MOST standard in the automotive market, several new companies have entered the business of supplying SI-POF and GI-POF; transmitters using red LEDs, RCLEDs, and VCSELs; and receivers. It is expected that the same 10-meter data link will cost under $15 by early this year (2011) due to cost reduction driven by increased volume.

Significantly higher market growth rates are expected in the industrial control networking market as POF and PCS displace copper cable networks at a much higher rate. It is estimated that the worldwide market for POF data links in industrial control networks will grow from $473 million in 2010 to $833 million in 2015. Most of this growth is expected to be in the harsh machine areas where POF is best suited.

Table of Contents


E.0 Executive Summary


2.0 Convergence of the Industrial, Auto and Consumer Networks


3.0 Overview of Industrial Control Networks


4.0 Why POF for Industrial Controls?


5.0 Trends Driving POF in the ICN Market

5.1  POF Standards

5.2  POF Systems Products

5.3  POF Technology

5.3.1  Sources

5.3.2  Fibers

5.3.3  Coding Schemes

5.3.4  POF Connectors

5.3.5  Cables for Harsh Environments

6.0  Cost Comparison to Cu and Fiber

6.1  Device and Infrastructure Savings

6.2  Tooling (installation)

6.3  Installation Time

7.0  Market Forecasts

7.1 Industrial Protocols

7.2  Glass Optical Fiber

8.0 Overview of Major Standards Organizations, Trade Organizations, and Trends

8.1 Industrial Ethernet

8.2 Profibus
8.3 Interbus

8.4 ControlNet

8.5 DeviceNet


8.7 IEEE-1394

8.8 Field Bus Foundation

8.9 Summary of Industrial Control Networking Standards

9.0 Technology Solutions


10.0 Industrial Control Systems Using POF


11.0 Profiles of Major System Companies Supplying Fiber-optic Products

11.1 Rockwell Automation, Rockwell Automation Product Line

11.1.1 General Motors Case Study

11.2 Siemens

11.3 Phoenix Contact

11.3.1 Volkswagen Case Study

11.4 Bosch Rexroth

11.5 Belden Electronics (Hirschmann)

11.6 ABB

11.7 GE Fanuc

11.8 Mitsubishi Electric Automation

11.9 Yokogawa

11.10 Sony

12.0 Profiles of Optoelectronics and Optical Fiber Suppliers


12.1 Transceiver Companies

12.2 Plastic Optical Fiber Companies


13.0 Selling into the Industrial Control Market


14.0 Conclusion


15.0 References and Acknowledgements


Table of Contents

  1. Convergence of Industrial and Consumer Worlds at 100Mbps

  2. Industrial Networking Applications

  3. Traditional Automation Network Hierarchy

  4. Network Hierarchy

  5. The simplicity of Fiber Optic Cable

  6. The complexity of Copper Cable

  7. POF Commercial Systems

  8. Device and Infrastructure Cost Comparison

  9. Savings comparison in Tooling

  10. Connectorizaton Time Study

  11. Served Available Market for POF in Various Fields

  12. Market for Industrial Control POF Data Links

  13. POF World Industrial Control Market Geographic Distribution
  14. Industrial Control Standards Estimates (%)

  15. Total Shipments of IC Ethernet Devices (Thousands of Units)

  16. Fiber Cable (Km)

  17. Cable Shipments (millions of $)

  18. Single serial cable replaces heavy parallel copper cables for all signal types

  19. Industrial Control Standards Application and Functionality

  20. POF Industrial Control Market by Standard

  21. Industrial Ethernet Compared to Office Ethernet

  22. Interbus topology

  23. Optical fiber and copper cable are easy to connect in an Interbus network

  24. Typical SERCOS-Based Motion System

  25. Foundation Field Bus Model

  26. Overview of the Standards

  27. Physical Characteristics

  28. Transport Mechanism

  29. Emitter, Cable Comparison

  30. Transceiver, Receiver Comparison

  31. Typical Factory Automation Network

  32. Programmable Logic Controller (Rockwell/Rockwell

  33. Protocol and Media Converters (Siemens, Phoenix Contact)

  34. Photo Switch with POF/GOF Cables (Rockwell/Rockwell Automation)

  35. Photoelectric Sensors with POF/GOF Connectors (Rockwell/Rockwell Automation)

  36. Photoelectric Sensors with Fiber Optic Cables (R
    ockwell Automation)

  37. Rockwell Automation Network Architecture

  38. GM's Phased Migration to a Com mon Architecture

  39. GM's Common Control System Architecture

  40. Different transmission media combined in a hybrid network.

  41. Profibus Optical Link Module (Siemens)

  42. Connection Criteria

  43. Sample product data sheets as an example of Phoenix Contact’s POF products.

  44. Hirschmann OZD-485 copper to optical fiber converter

  45. Mitsubishi Network Hierarchy