PLC Manufacturer Rankings

After spending the last couple of weeks teaching PLC programming, I decided to do a little research on the popularity of the different manufacturer’s platforms worldwide. I have been asked many times in the past who the biggest, most popular, “best” PLC manufacturer is and I try not to inject my own preferences into the discussion. I have worked with 9 or ten different PLC platforms in the past and have recommended different platforms based on customer needs and budgets. I consider myself proficient in most of the major manufacturer’s platforms, with the exception of Modicon (in which I have little experience).

You would think that in the modern days of Google and other search engines that information like this would be fairly easy to come by. After all, with user groups in Linked In, online forums like and surveys posted regularly by the manufacturers themselves such information should be readily available.

It is fairly easy to get information on the relative size of automation companies. Jim Pinto wrote a post in 2012 on the top 50 automation companies which used data from’s 2011 list. This placed Siemens at the top spot worldwide with other major PLC manufacturer’s as follows:

1. Siemens
2. ABB
4. Schneider (Modicon)
5. Rockwell (Allen-Bradley)
7. Mitsubishi
8. GE
11. Omron
33. Bosch Rexroth
35. Beckhoff
37. Fuji
47. Toshiba

This list is missing some notable PLC manufacturers such as Keyence, Idec, Panasonic and Koyo. So how to drill down and analyze the PLC market by itself?

ARC Advisory Group is the leading global market research firm for automation, asset management, control, M2M, MES, PLM, SCM and software. Their most recent analysis of the market is available here. I have submitted a request for information as their pricing is not available online… I have a feeling it will be expensive. It is also unlikely that I can share it in any meaningful way without infringing on copyright laws.

A November 2001 survey by this group is available here. The results are out of date and 58% of the respondents were from North America, but it does provide an idea of what the market might look like today:


In North America Rockwell/Allen-Bradley had between 60% and 70% of the market share in both OEM and end-user markets. Siemens was a very distant second with 5% of the OEM market and 19% of end users, Schneider (Modicon) took the third spot with 5% of OEMs and 4% of end users. This left about 20% of the market in both the OEM and end-user categories for all other manufacturers combined.

In Europe Siemens had a much greater percentage of the market, especially among end-users. Much of the Allen Bradley presence among OEMs probably had to do with equipment imported from or designed by companies in the United States.

Eur_PLC_MktShareModicon is not broken out in the European market but probably makes up a significant portion of the “other” category in the end-user market since they are a French company. Japanese PLC platforms such as Mitsubishi and Omron probably make up a major part of the other among OEMs.

In this survey a conclusion is drawn that Mitsubishi dominates the Japanese market. There is no data for this listed in the report but this is probably a valid assumption. Japanese engineers I have worked with in the past certainly seem to prefer it.

In my experience people often resent the biggest of these PLC manufacturers because of the cost of their products (especially software) relative to other platforms. The software licensing policies also make it difficult for engineers and technicians to obtain their own software for training and practice. Over the last couple of weeks I have had some good discussions with guys who work in the manufacturing environment every day. It was easy to pick up on some of the frustrations they have had with the ability to get support from manufacturers. In general people were pretty happy with the local vendors but less so with the manufacturers themselves. At the same time, when a company has mostly one brand of PLC in their plant there is little ability to do much about it.

Overall I remain somewhat brand-agnostic. What is best for most industrial manufacturers is usually whatever PLC they already use. I certainly have my preferences, but much of this is probably based mostly on familiarity and experience with the software and hardware.

If you have any thoughts on the subject post them below. What brand of PLC do you prefer? Is it the one that you are the most experienced with or is used the most where you work? What software do you like the most or least? Hardware? How much of a part does price play in your selection process?


Electrical Engineer and business owner from the Nashville, Tennessee area. I also play music, Chess and Go.

5 Comments on “PLC Manufacturer Rankings

  1. Frankly, I don’t about vendor rankings, as long as the vendor is stable and committed. I suspect popularity varies a lot with geographical area and industry segment. Based on a small sample size and my Silicon Valley experience, AB isn’t very popular; I’d say the most common are Omron, Mitsubishi, and Automation Direct. If I were in another area, like packaging, the results would be different.

    My company is very PC-centric, and our main customers are too (all their machines have to connect to Java or .NET based servers). I use PLC’s in conjunction with the PC; the PLC provides affordable 24V I/O and some intelligence.

    I’m all about value; I can spend the money where it adds value, but won’t pay extra for a name or unneeded features (for example, I’m not paying extra for EtherCAT or PowerLink drives because they don’t add any value for our application). I use Panasonic PLCs because they’re a good value, are very compact, easy to interface to PCs, and are easy to interface to custom break out boards. If Panasonic ever pisses me off in PLCs (like they did in servo motors), I’ll look at IDEC. I’m impressed with the Siemens S7-1200 series, but it just doesn’t match our current needs.

  2. Hello sir/madam,
    I am looking an PLC with the following specification:

    PLC Specifications
    • CPU with 4MB internal RAM
    • CPU through put of 7 K instructions per msec.
    • Instruction execution time:
     Boolean instruction: less than 0.20 ms
     Numerical instruction: less than 0.28 ms
    • 100 Mbps, Modbus TCP/IP, Ethernet communication interface.
    • User data storage capacity of at least 128 KB
    • PLC shall be able to communicate with two independent HMI software’s at a time using Modbus TCP/IP.
    • CPU module without any need for backup battery.
    • CPU module with at least 8 MB SD card Flash memory.
    • “Plug & load” feature for SD card without disturbing program execution.
    • In-built Web server, for simplifying operation and maintenance task like system diagnostics and settings adjustment.
    • PLC programming software with following features
     On-line programming
     Program transfer
     Data file read/write access
     Programming languages: Ladder logic, Functional Block Diagram, system code, etc. as per IEC 61131.
    DI module:
    • No of Digital input to PLC: 332
    • Isolation: 3 way isolation, CH to CH 500 VDC
    • Minimum module scan time: Less than 50 ms
    • Type of input: Sinking type
    • Hot swapping: Yes
    DO Module:
    • No of Digital output from PLC:236
    • Output rating: 500 mA
    • Isolation: 3 way isolation, CH to CH 500 VDC
    • Minimum module scan time: Less than 50 ms
    • Type of output: Sourcing type
    • Hot swapping: Yes
    • Thermal fusing as per channel and supply

    AI Module:
    • No of Analog 4-20mA input to PLC: 96
    • Nominal signal range (span): 4 to 20 mA
    • Resolution: 12-bit
    • Isolation: Supply 500VDC
    • Thermal fuse: For each channel
    • Accuracy as % of span: 0.1% of calibrated span
    • Input impedance: Typical 100 ohms
    • Over current and input voltage protection: Short circuit protection above 100 mA for each AI channel.
    • Hot swapping: Yes
    • LED indication: For all channels.

    Please suggest me the suitable PLC along with the Datasheet

  3. It’s astonishing that this disparity is totally market based and has nothing to do with technical aspects of PLCs. Further, you cannot draw any conclusion whatsoever about the capabilities of Rockwell and Siemens based on this statistics.

    • I agree wholeheartedly, but having programmed extensively in the major platforms I will say that AB and Siemens have the most flexible and easy to use software platforms, especially when it comes to developing very large programs quickly. At the same time I think that the cost of both hardware and software (including and especially the AB “support contract”) is not proportional to its usefulness, especially on smaller projects. Most of the cost and popularity is driven by the size of the installed base.