Digital Transformation of Process Automation
Published by : Industrial Automation
What are the dominant trends for Process Automation in 2018? Automation Experts identify the most likely influences.
The field of Process Automation has many exciting developments in store for 2018. There are several factors that are influencing these developments including the rising emphasis on regulatory compliance in process industries, increasing adoption of IoT across various industries, shift in production approach from conventional practices to digitalised methods, rising demand for proactive solutions and not the least, rising wages in major manufacturing hubs. Commenting on Emerging Trends in Process Automation, Unnikrishnan R, Sr Manager – Sales Support, Process Automation, Pepperl & Fuchs (India) Pvt Ltd, says, “Intelligent devices, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Robotics, Virtual Reality, Big mobility and Machine learning are trending big time on the process automation scenario. Lack of consensus in the automation world regarding a standard code for converged wireless protocol, have created confusion amongst the end consumers and so it's mass use is still not to the desired level.” Pepperl+Fuchs is a pioneer and innovator of industrial sensors for factory automation and an expert for explosion protection in process automation. The company provides process industries all over the world with proven components and tailor-made solutions for a diverse range of applications
“The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has quickly evolved from concepts and pilot projects to fleet-wide deployments with impressive returns. These returns are based largely on the actionable, data-driven insights that have equipped forward-looking companies. Industry is evolving to become smarter and more connected,” says Dr Keyur Vora – Vice President, C&I, Reliance Industries Ltd. Reliance Industries, one of India’s largest conglomerates, in late 2016 signed a global partnership agreement with GE in the IIoT space to work together to build out joint applications on GE’s Predix platform, and has taken an early lead in this direction.
According to Dr Vora, the country at this juncture is growing very well. Late adopters of the latest digital technology including IIoT risk losing market share and incurring unnecessary costs by not keeping up with the pace of innovation. “In fact, most of business leaders expect their company to use the IIoT within the next three to four years. Attention and investment are now shifting toward the next challenge: scaling and managing large IIoT deployments, including remote systems management, software configuration management, and data management,” he adds.
Unnikrishnan of Pepperl & Fuchs feels Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the future of Process Automation as they will for sure increase speed, cut down on the cost of process, increase the quality and thereby increase productivity. It is possible to source and create immense amount of information, automating entire work scenario enabling faster assimilation and adaptation. “In the long run, it will help in quicker response, faster decision making, reduce the risk involved in operations and better customer satisfaction. Wireless technology is an essential business enabler for the automation world which is gaining acceptance in many industrial sectors because of its cost effectiveness, reliability, fast deployment, and flexibility,” says Unnikrishnan.
G Ganapathiraman, Country Manager, ARC Advisory Group India opines that the automation industry appears to be evolving at a faster rate right now than at any time in its history, with IIoT being one of the primary drivers of change (see box). The ARC Advisory Group is a leading technology market research firm for industry, manufacturing, infrastructure and cities.
Then there are the issues of protocols and standardisation. “The Process Automation market is already matured with Foundation fieldbus, Profibus, etc. But they lack many aspects with regards to Industry 4.0 as the connectivity at the field level is not up to the standard. Though several wireless concepts bridge this gap, many still worry about handling the vast amount of data and the security of the data,” says Unnikrishnan. With the plethora of information that's made available at the click of a mouse, comes the dilemma of sourcing intelligent and required information from the huge avalanche of data. “It's like searching for a needle in a haystack. To make matters more complicated the data are not categorised under any label,” he adds.
While data could well be the new gold, sifting through this data deluge – or data garbage to take the more uncharitable view – for honing in on the really useful data with actionable intelligence, is not easy. That is where expertise comes in from the vendors who have invested in products and technologies to mine the humongous data thus collected.
According to Unnikishnan, the middle aged maintenance crew is literally scared of handling this data as they are not properly trained in the big data analytics and handling of the data securely. The next big things of Ethernet based Advanced Physical Layer (APL), Profinet, MODBUS TCP, etc., might help to bridge this gap in data handling as well as security wise. “The virtual world doesn't come without its own set of risks, but with improved cyber security protections and input validation standards, the risks can be reduced to a large extent,” he concludes.
According to a research report by MarketsandMarkets, the process automation and instrumentation market with estimated value of USD 62.64 bn in 2017, is likely to grow at a CAGR of 6.0% to reach USD 88.92 bn by 2023. The value chain pertaining to the process automation and instrumentation market starts with R&D, followed by the manufacturing, distribution, and post-sale services phases. Capital investment is high in the process automation and instrumentation market as a huge amount of capital is required to develop process automation systems. Capital investment is high in the market due to integration of solutions and process automation techniques. A new market player requires high degree of expertise to enter the market. Approximately, 70-80% of the market share is being held by the top 5-6 companies, and the remaining 20-30% of the market share is being held by the small and mid-level (200-250) companies.
Some of the major suppliers of process automation and instrumentation solutions are ABB Ltd (Switzerland), Emerson Electric Co (US), General Electric Co (US), Honeywell International Inc (US), Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (Japan), Rockwell Automation Inc (US), Schneider Electric SE (France), Siemens AG (Germany), Yokogawa Electric Corporation (Japan), and Metso Corporation (Finland). What is true of Process Automation is also true for Manufacturing Sector. Speaking about trends for the manufacturing sector for 2018, Antony Bourne, global industry director of High-tech and Industrial Manufacturing at IFS, has made these three game-changing predictions.
- By the end of 2018, over 50 per cent of manufacturers will be building IoT technology into the design phase of their products
- Servitisation speeds ahead: By 2020, most manufacturers will earn over half of their revenue from services
- By 2019, the hype around 3D printing will be over and real benefits will bloom. Niju Vijayan, Director, Frost & Sullivan, has encapsulated these in brief (see box). As technologies related to Industry 4.0 mature and come to the shop floor in increasing numbers, interesting times are ahead for further automation in industry.