Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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Advanced process control market to be driven by need to improve performance: Study


December 13, 2012
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

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After emerging from the recent global recession, the ensuing recovery in the economy and cost of energy has increased the pressures on the process industries to improve performance, according to new research from ARC Advisory Group.

This has begun to reinvigorate demand for advanced process control and process optimization solutions.  Major automation projects are reemerging around the world, particularly in developing regions.  New projects are being purchased with APC software as part of the overall scope.  As a result, APC demand is increasing, according to the new ARC Advisory Group study.

Despite an uncertain economic outlook, the APC market will continue to grow.  Some regions, like the emerging economies, will continue to invest heavily in new projects.  Other, more developed regions are focusing on modernization projects as well as safety, reliability, sustainability, and efficiency improvements.  “The process industries are under constant pressure to improve performance.  This is driving demand for advanced process control and process optimization solutions, which are becoming ‘must haves’ in an increasingly competitive industry landscape,” according to senior consultant Peter Reynolds, the principal author of ARC’s “Advanced Process Control & On-line Optimization Global Market Research Study”.

The electric power, oil & gas, and chemical industries have driven the APC market for the past five years and account for 70 per cent of the overall APC market.  Chemical is a large market but it lags the other three in terms of growth potential for APC.  This is partially due to the fine chemical part of this sector.  The petrochemical sector is more likely to employ APC and optimization solutions.  Electric power and oil & gas extraction, refining, and distribution are all expected to have better than average growth over the next five years.  The demand for energy will continue to be a major driver for this market.

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Advanced process control applications are expected to have the strongest growth over the next five years.  APC, in particular linear model predictive control, is a proven application.  Many industries, beyond the original adopters in oil refining, have discovered the rapid return on investment of deploying APC and model predictive control.

On-line process optimization is expected to lag the average APC growth.  This is due in part to the nature of deploying optimization technology.  Certain unit operations such as Ethylene cracking have found optimization to be well worth the effort, where other processes have struggled with the experience level required to deploy and maintain results.  In many cases, users have felt that APC provides them most of the benefits.

Most of the world regions have yet to return to pre-recession growth numbers.  The emerging countries, such as China, Brazil, and India have been quicker to invest in process industries.  Projects from these regions typically postponed APC initiatives, but not anymore.  These emerging regions want to commission new plants with all the advanced applications running so they can compete globally with the same level of efficiency that technologies like APC provide.