System Integrator Giants of 2013
As the professional affiliations chart on shows, this year’s SI Giants have also demonstrated a significant increase in involvement with the various professional and trade organizations that focus on automation-related skills and industries that use automation. And like last year, the survey results show that SI Giants tend to join these organizations more readily than other automation system integrators do.
For example, in 2013 more than half of the SI Giants (57%) reported being members of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA), up from 43% in 2012. CSIA membership also grew among automation system integrators in general, but not nearly as much. This year, 18.5% of other integrators cited the CSIA as a professional affiliation, up from 17% last year.
It comes as no surprise that an association dedicated to control system integrators would have a significant following among both SI Giants and automation system integrators in general, but exactly why the CSIA should appeal so much more to larger firms is not altogether obvious. There was a time that the CSIA required a minimum annual revenue before a prospective member could join, but that requirement has been lifted. Perhaps smaller integrators still think of the CSIA as an organization just for the “big guys.”
Robotics vs. controls
The organization for robotic system integrators, the Robotics Industry Association (RIA), was cited by 3% of both SI Giants and other integrators. At the 2013 Automate Show, the vast majority of system integrators exhibiting were RIA members (the event was sponsored in part by the RIA), yet only one belonged to the CSIA. Control system integration and robotic system integration industries seem to have little overlap, even though both cover industrial automation.
This divide is also evident in engineering specialties performed by the 2013 SI Giants. Robotics (32%), vision systems (33%), and automated assemblies (33%) are the three least-common specialties performed, while automation and control engineering (95%), installation and start-up (93%), and HMI and operator interfaces (92%) round out the top three. Among automation system integrators in general, automation and programmable logic controller (PLC) skills were not so dominant (56% and 63%, respectively), but still well ahead of robotics and vision systems (32% and 30%, respectively).
Other professional organizations that gained popularity among the SI Giants included Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the Project Management Institute (PMI), and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). Comparing the 2012 and 2013 SI Giants data, UL increased from 19% to 39%; PMI increased from 11% to 24%; and NSPE increased from 10% to 24%. The International Society of Automation (ISA) remained in the top five as the third most-cited professional affiliation, with 34% in 2013 vs. 38% in 2012. Rounding out the top 10 affiliations were the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA, 25%), the Control Systems Society (CSS, 20%), the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers (ISPE, 18%), the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE, 17%), and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME, 17%).
Most of these professional/third-party organizations are dedicated to the practice of various technical disciplines, which makes sense considering what automation system integrators do for a living. The list of most-cited professional affiliations among other integrators was similar: ISA, IEEE, CSIA, UL, CSS, NFPA, ASME, NSPE, and PMI.
ISPE was the 2013 SI Giants’ only top 10 professional affiliation associated with a specific industry. It did not make the top 10 list for automation system integrators in general, but even for that group, ISPE was still the most popular of all professional organizations that focus on an industry rather than a technology. Ironically, pharmaceuticals as an industry was not as popular with the 2013 SI Giants or the other integrators listed in the AIG. Only 5% of the 2013 SI Giants serve the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry (see the chart on page 50), up 2% from 2012. Despite the industry’s increased popularity, pharmaceuticals still only accounted for half as much revenue as the most-served industry on the list: food and beverage (10%). The formerly most-served industry, oil and gas, dropped from 11% in 2012 to 8% in 2013. Rounding out the top five were chemicals and petrochemicals (6%), automotive (6%), and water/wastewater (6%), about the same as last year.
It is interesting to note that only one of these top five industries served, automotive, is discrete, and of the top 10, there’s only one more, material handling (4%). The remaining industries are process or hybrid industries: metals (4%), consumer products (4%), and processing (3%). Perhaps the simplest explanation is that the refineries, foundries, and processing plants of process industries generally operate on a much larger scale, with the exception of automotive plants of discrete industries, requiring the largest system integrators.
Next page shows product experience and engineering specialties; see last page for full list of industries served.