PC-based open control comes of age

Dedham, Mass. - Total open control software (OCS) business, including softlogic and motion control, is projected to increase at an annual rate of over 24 percent through 2006.


Dedham, Mass. - Total open control software (OCS) business, including softlogic and motion control, is projected to increase at an annual rate of over 24 percent through 2006. Although softlogic revenues are dominant at outset, it is clear that the take up in the motion control market will make significant strides by 2006. 'Both the automation supplier and end user agree that PC-based open control software has been established in industrial automation as a flexible and reliable control solution. Moreover, OCS providers have moved to new business models that include multiple automation solutions, integration, services, and support,' said Dick Slansky, ARC Senior Analyst and author of a new study from ARC Advisory Group, ' Open Control Software Worldwide Outlook '.

OCS has evolved into a viable solution for integrated, multi-function control systems. The landscape of the PC-based open control software sector has changed dramatically in the last two years. Mergers, acquisitions, partnerships, and departures from the business all together have taken place. OCS providers in today's automation market have adopted new business models based on multiple control domains. They offer manufacturing users an automation suite for a more complete automation controller. Most OCS suppliers have gone beyond stand alone softlogic PLC replacement business model. OCS applications may include HMI, soft motion control, soft CNC, factory database functionality, development tools for controls integration, batch management, I/O configurators, schedulers, and, more relevant today, a Web server. Mr. Slansky continues, 'Moreover, an infrastructure of services and support has developed that will play a major role in continuing the growth of the OCS market.'

As plants and factories move into the era of Internet-powered collaborative manufacturing, it will become critical to have in place a network of intelligent sensors and devices to collect and disseminate the data generated at the lowest levels of the production processes. This next generation factory architecture will close the loop from the 'work' level of manufacturing to the enterprise level SCM and PLM applications that depend on factory floor data to actually implement the process of collaboration.

Factory floor control systems, powered by next generation open control software, will serve as broker for the distribution of work in process information. The long elusive promise of 'sensor to boardroom' connectivity will be realized as these Web-enabled open control systems are put in place.

The study covers the evolution of OCS to its current state, as well as future direction including current market, leading suppliers, their strategies in this sector, and the business models that have survived.

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