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Special Report: The way forward for industrial automation

by Arabian Oil & Gas Staff on May 17, 2018


Industry 4.0 is said to be the way forward for industrial automation.
Industry 4.0 is said to be the way forward for industrial automation.

Reliability and efficiency of industrial manufacturing are intricately linked with instrumentation, process control and automation, and it creates the technical conditions for mass production.

According to reports, the UAE is looking to invest $75bn in the manufacturing sector by 2025, leading to instrumentation, process control and automation requirements for various industries such as oil and gas, packaging, construction, food and beverage, paints and coatings, nano-sensors and healthcare.

Saudi too has big economic diversification plans with automation at the core, as highlighted by its 2017 announcement to build NEOM, a $500bn, 26,500sqm metropolis on the Red Sea where all services and processes will be 100% fully automated.

Industry 4.0, the merging of robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence, is said to be the way forward for industrial automation. Automation’s mission is to make everyday life easier for people, to support them in their personal and industrial environment. 

According to an industry report from Envision Inteligence – Middle East and Africa Industrial Control and Factory Automation Market – the sector is expected to reach $19.66bn by the year 2024, at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 4.2% during 2018-2024. The factors propelling the market growth mainly includes extensive use of enabling technologies in manufacturing, continuous innovation in industrial robotics boosting its adoption in manufacturing and need for mass production and connected supply chain to cater to the growing population.

Mass customisation of products is increasing the demand for factory automation. In addition, automation refers to the integration of mechanical systems with information technology, which provides process automation in an industrial set-up. These systems are standardised reliable production systems.

Process automation I/O modules

The latest ARC Advisory Group research on the process automation I/O modules market reveals that recent technological advancements in the market are changing the role and the demand for I/O in the control system. While the nature of the physical I/O, control networks, and field networks is changing, other technologies like the Industrial Internet of Things are pushing change even faster.

“New, more intelligent and configurable process I/O modules are helping reduce both the duration and costs of greenfield, or major retrofit projects.  The newer offerings also promise a smaller footprint and less wasted I/O channels,” according to Stefan Miksch, analyst at ARC Advisory Group.

Instrumentation sensors

The growing use of emerging communication and sensor technologies, along with an end-user shift from capital to consumer goods, is reshaping the instrumentation sensors for fluid control industry. A BCC Research report predicts the    global market for this industry to grow at a 6.7% CAGR to reach $16.2bn by 2021, up from $11.8bn in 2016.

According to the report – Instrumentation Sensors for Fluid Power: Stationary and Mobile Applications – smart transmitters are replacing conventional transmitters, a shift due to the revolutionary developments occurring in the relevant technologies, including the design of high-performance microcontrollers and low-power devices, computer integrated manufacturing, data communication and industrial networking. Smart devices offer the potential of remote interaction using a hand-held configurator. Moreover, when smart field devices are connected to a Fieldbus, they can perform various operations otherwise unimaginable using the conventional devices.

The competitive position of the main players in the instrumentation sensors for the fluid control market is well guarded due to protected and patented technologies used by General Electric, Emerson, Siemens, Vega, Honeywell, Schneider Electric, Krohne, Yokogawa, and other OEMs in the stationary industry. In the mobile machinery sectors, position sensors are integrated in hydraulic cylinders for position detection of piston rods, a method also used by OEMs.

Stationary applications, which held the largest market share (97.9%, $11.5bn) in 2016, is estimated to increase to 98.1% ($15.9bn) by 2021. Research on instrumentation sensors for mobile application study is mainly focused on position sensors as integrated into hydraulic cylinders used in mobile machineries. Regulatory agencies are requiring that more process data be acquired and stored, a trend that has increased visibility and usage of two-way smart instrumentation sensors.

“The use of intelligent process variable transmitters and digital field communications is expanding. End-users are demanding even greater functionality and benefits from their intelligent instrumentation,” says BCC Research analyst BL Gupta, who authored the report. “Manufacturers of instrumentation sensors see this trend as customers focus more on the cost and conditions of production, and these are two key reasons why it is happening.”

Smart factory

According to a Mordor Intelligence research report on the global smart factory market, the sector was valued at $38.95bn in 2015 and is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 9.70% to reach $61.88bn by 2020. Factors driving the smart factory market include a growing demand for energy efficiency, increased adoption of IoT, technological advancements in process automation systems and manufacturing, greater visibility of factory operations, and connected supply chain operations.

Significant evolutions in Industry 4.0 practices coupled with growing potential for communication technologies are expected to open up new growth opportunities for the smart factory market over and beyond the forecast period. However, high capital costs, cyber security concerns, dearth of skilled workforce and dynamic changes with regards to labour requirements are expected to impede growth in this market.

Asia-Pacific is forecasted to record the highest CAGR growth over the reporting period, buoyed by increased focus on ‘efficient’ practices and growing levels of awareness of the benefits of smart processes in factories. Some of the major firms operating in this market include Siemens AG, Honeywell, FANUC Corporation, Rockwell Automation and Schneider Electric. The smart factory market is witnessing increased competition with the emergence of technology giants to go with a mix of market incumbents and new entrants.

There will be a massive impact of instrumentation, process control and automation in the refineries and petrochemical facilities in the near future. Instrumentation, process control and automation done in the right way will further improve the uptime, productivity, energy efficiency and safety in downstream industry.


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