Chromalox survey projects more control systems with built-in diagnostics, predictive maintenance

Pittsburgh, PA—Most active users of temperature and power control systems are planning to integrate digital control systems that include built-in diagnostic and predictive maintenance functions along with remote PC access, according to 150 respondents to Chromalox’s annual market trend study.


Pittsburgh, PA— Most active users of temperature and power control systems are planning to integrate digital control systems that include built-in diagnostic and predictive maintenance functions along with remote PC access, according to 150 respondents to Chromalox ’s annual market trend study. Chromalox manufactures industrial heat and control systems.

Respondents expect to enhance their control systems by adding predictive maintenance and equipment diagnostic functions to help them manage information related to their process or application. Only 5% of those surveyed currently have temperature control systems that include diagnostic or predictive maintenance capabilities, but 75% expect to have these capabilities in two years, which indicates strong demand for more intelligent temperature control systems, according to Chromalox.

Nearly 30% of those surveyed presently have some form of remote equipment monitoring technology, and another 20% expect to add remote control technology in 2005. Meanwhile, 75% of respondents said they expect to have remote control systems in place within two years. That percentage is up from 50% in last year’s survey. While wireless technology is being used in only 17% of the manufacturing facilities surveyed, that number is expected to double in two years.

When asked, “What is the biggest challenge you face in your job for 2005,” 35% of respondents reported budget constraints and 33% reported increased productivity goals. While only 20% expect a decreased budget in 2005 (compared to 27% last year), 45% have an increased budget for 2005, and 35% have the same budget as last year. Staffing levels are expected to remain flat or increase this year, with 50% claiming no change, and 40% planning to increase staff.

In addition, 76% of those surveyed said they expect production volumes to increase in 2005, with 28% forecasting a significant increase. Production increases are being driven by an increased demand for products (48%) and an expanded product line (28%).

To accommodate the growth in productivity while managing budgets conservatively, 55% of respondents said their plants will install improved production technology in 2005.

Also, 40% will invest in supply chain improvements and lean manufacturing techniques. Software integration problems continue to be the number one problem managers have when installing new technology into a facility, as identified by 45% of participants. Following closely are insufficient budget (45%), insufficient time (40%), and hardware integration issues (40%). These numbers are consistent with last year’s results.

Finally, plant security has become an issue in the news since the federal government introduced its Public Health Security & Bioterrorism Preparedness & Response Act, but 50% of the people in this survey claim there has been no impact on their operations, and 35% claim minimal impact. 40% said they have not changed any of their security systems related to plan operations and control. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, participants rated the overall security of their own plant operations as 7.5.

The survey’s 150 respondents are located in a range of process and manufacturing industries, and are most commonly in engineering management or engineering technical staff positions, although there were a small number of manufacturing managers, corporate managers, purchasing managers, and production staff included.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jim Montague, news editor

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