Major usage shifts expected in DAQ products

Natick, MA—Buyers of external chassis and module and plug-in analog I/O boards for data acquisition (DAQ) applications expect to make significant shifts in the types of products they purchase over the next five years, according to a new report from Venture Development Corp.(VDC).

06/30/2003


Natick, MA— Buyers of external chassis and module and plug-in analog I/O boards for data acquisition (DAQ) applications expect to make significant shifts in the types of products they purchase over the next five years, according to a new report from Venture Development Corp.

Most significant are relatively high average growth rate projections for Compact PCI and PXI plug-in analog I/O boards, and sharp declines expected in procurement of VME and ISA boards. In the external chassis and modules, the highest average growth rates among the survey respondents are expected for distributed/remote I/O and PC front ends, and the lowest growth rates are projected for data loggers and standalone systems.

The report is based on an extensive survey of purchasers (end-users, OEMs, and others) of data acquisition products that probed current requirements and likely requirements four years from now. Products covered in the investigation included: external chassis and modules-data loggers; distributed/remote I/O; paperless chart recorders; PC front ends; standalone systems; and plug-in analog I/O boards classified by bus architectures, such as Compact PCI, ISA, PC/104, PCI, PCMCIA (PC cards), PXI, VME, and VXI.

Some of these products tend to be purchased more by end-users in various industries, while others tend to be purchased more by OEMs and others who incorporate these into equipment and systems they sell:

  • Data loggers, paperless chart recorders, and standalone systems tend to be purchased more by end-users for their own applications.

  • PC front ends and distributed/remote I/O tend to be purchased more by OEMs and others.

  • Compact PCI, PC/104, PXI, and VME plug-in analog I/O boards tend to be purchased more be OEMs and others.

  • ISA and PCMCIA (PC Card) plug-in analog I/O boards tend to be purchased more by end-users for use for their own applications.

Growth factors
Increasing use of DAQ products is tied the expansion or decline of consuming industries and applications, but there are many other influences. Factors tending to increase demand include:

  • A greater need for testing to insure quality and robustness of products, and to increase productivity.

  • Increasing regulatory agency (FDA etc.) requirements for data.

  • Need is often keyed to development activities in firms because new projects result in more procurements.

  • Price is a consideration because lower prices will lead to more usage. For example, the ability to use COTS is helping to lower prices on data acquisition products for military/aerospace applications.

  • Obsolescence of older data acquisition products. Newer products can provide better reliability and performance. These are likely to be faster, have more options, and may be cheaper.

Factors tending to decrease demand include:

  • In laboratory and R&D applications, DAQ equipment is often reused from project to project. It is broken down and re-configured.

  • Make versus buy decisions. Some users may decide to make their own DAQ boards, or assemble their own external data acquisition systems. Conversely, users may also shift from making to buying equipment.

  • Shifts to full end-to-end test systems, rather than using separately purchased DAQ equipment.

Increased procurement projected
Most significant among the overall procurement growth rate projections are the relatively high average growth rates expected for Compact PCI and PXI plug-in analog I/O boards, and the sharp declines expected in procurement of VME and ISA boards. In the external chassis and modules, the highest average growth rates among the survey respondents are expected for distributed/remote I/O and PC front ends, and the lowest for data loggers and standalone systems.

Average growth rate projections for 2002-2007 in unit purchases of DAQ products by type include:

External chassis and modules

  • Distributed/remote I/O 7.2%

  • PC front ends 6.8%

  • Paperless chart recorders 5.5%

  • Standalone systems 3.6%

  • Data loggers 3.2%

Plug-in analog I/O boards

  • PXI 14.3%

  • Compact PCI 13.2%

  • PCMCIA (PC card) 9.9%

  • VXI 5.1%

  • PCI 0.7%

  • PC/104 0.6%

  • ISA -16.2%

  • VME -24.0%

Plug-in analog I/O board use
Compact PCI bus is an adaptation of the PCI specification for rugged and/or embedded applications that require more robust mechanical forms. Developed by National Instruments and now an open industry standard, PXI is an adaptation of Compact PCI. PXI's specification simplifies the PCI specification by limiting options. This simplifies integration, increases the degree of compatibility between system controllers and chassis of different vendors, and prevents expansion of system controllers in using up valuable peripheral slots. These factors favor adoption of these buses for DAQ applications.

Meanwhile, ISA and VME are older technologies that are being replaced. ISA plug-in analog I/O boards have limited bandwidth and data rate capabilities, and Compact PCI, PCI and PXI are displacing them. There is some VME displacement in applications by VXI. Also, most VME implementations are in computer systems with PowerPC microprocessors, and the largest share of these use VxWorks operating system. However, VDC's study found that most of the DAQ market uses Intel microprocessors and Microsoft operating systems. Even respondents in industries and applications where use of VME boards has been relatively strong expect to shift more to use of data acquisition products using Compact PCI and PCI buses, Intel microprocessors and Microsoft operating systems.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor
jmontague@reedbusiness.com





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