- Cloud-based supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems
- Increased use of analytics
- Growing use of programmable automation controllers (PACs)
These are the three biggest trends to influence the industrial automation control market from 2016 to 2020, according to a new report released by international market research company Technavio.
The report predicts these trends will result in an eight percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the Asia-Pacific region, but the trends are likely to be seen globally.
SCADA Systems to See Growth in Adoption
A SCADA system is used for remote monitoring and control of industrial processes such as power generation, fabrication and refining. These systems use coded signals to communicate over channels with remote stations.
These systems are predicted to see a growth in adoption due to their scalability, ease of updating and upgrading, as well as general use through the Cloud.
“Generally, SCADA systems are installed to control and monitor sensors and transmitters installed in the facility,” said Bharath Kanniappan, a lead automation analyst at Technavio. “A controller or operator sits inside the facility and controls applications with the help of a human-machine interface. The integration of cloud computing technology with SCADA systems enables operators to control applications via the Internet.”
The chance that hackers could infiltrate cloud-based SCADA systems has raised security concerns. However, this concern is believed to be an unlikely deterrent from adopting the technology, as Cloud security features become more sophisticated.
Analytical Software Will Identify and Reduce Error
Technavio’s report predicts a significant growth in the adoption of data management and analytical software for the purposes of reducing error and assisting with decision making.
The integration of predictive modeling, forecasting, optimization and statistical analysis in software such as SCADA and advanced process control (APC) has made it easier to identify and predict possible errors. In accordance with this prediction, automation vendors have reportedly started to incorporate analytics tools into SCADA and APC.
For example, sophisticated SCADA systems are used in wind and solar-powered energy generation plants.
At times, false alarms in these plants result in shutdowns that reduce efficiency and productivity. Predictive analytics can be used to identify the instance of faulty alarms, thereby raising the efficiency of SCADA systems.
Programmable Automation Controllers to Increase in Use
PAC’s combine the elements of a PC-based controller and programmable logic controllers (PLCs).
Common issues with PLCs are found in the use of ladder logic programming.
This programming language is robust, but time-consuming when compared to the easier-to-program C, C++ and C# languages used in PACs.
Additionally, ladder logic programs are unique between providers, which limits a manufacturer to a single suite of products.
Using C languages with PACs and even some PLCs, a manufacturer can allow logic controllers from different providers to communicate – this flexibility can allow for best-product purchases if one brand doesn’t meet all application requirements.
“PAC uses standard communication protocols that enable it to download and transfer information from various connected systems,” Bharath said. “The technology is more reliable than other control systems such as (DCS), in terms of scalability of production and product flexibility in automotive plants.”