Process Automation Systems (June 2006)

Research was undertaken to gain a better understanding of Control Engineering subscribers’ applications and needs regarding process automation systems.


Research was undertaken to gain a better understanding of Control Engineering subscribers’ applications and needs regarding process automation systems.

Executive Summary

  • 61% of respondents indicate they specify, recommend, and/or buy process automation systems (PAS).

  • Half of respondents indicate the type of processing at their plant is batch and continuous processing. A much smaller percentage (21%) use batch processing only, while another 18% use continuous processing only.

  • 48% of respondents indicate that there are currently less than five process automation systems at their location. 24% indicate there are between five and nine such systems, while only 15% of respondents are from locations with 30 or more process automation systems.

  • 90% of the newest systems on site are less than six years old. About half (52%) of the average systems on site are between six and twelve years old, with another 37% being less than six years. When looking at the oldest system on site, 21% are more than 20 years old.

  • Above average mean scores were given to all systems when rating PAS features and capabilities. The newest systems received the highest mean score (3.34) while the oldest systems generated the lowest mean score.

  • Regardless of the age of the process automation system, it appears the majority of plants do not utilize the features and capabilities that are available to them. Roughly threequarters of respondents indicate that 75% or less of the system features and capabilities are currently being utilized.

  • The top two reasons cited for not using current PAS capabilities are insufficient on-site staff (37%) and that the features and capabilities are inappropriate for the process (32%). Only 9% indicate that they are too difficult to implement.

  • Above average mean scores were given to all systems when rating the reliability of process automation systems on site. However, only the newest systems generated a mean score over 3.00 (Good). Older systems appear to have lower reliability scores.

  • Respondents were asked how they would handle the upgrading, migrating or replacement of their current PAS on site. 42% indicated it would be done in small portions spread out over 24+ months. One-quarter would handle it in large portions and be fully completed in less than 12 months. Only 17% said they would do it all at one time.

Process Automation Systems 2006

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