Automation Solution Providers Shift Gears to Align with IIoT-driven Industry Transformation


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Tectonic shifts are underway across process and discrete industries due to the need for capital efficiency, asset efficiency and resource efficiency. These trends are nurturing the growth of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industry 4.0. The convergence of algorithms, cloud, data, devices and networks drive a creative destruction and expansion of traditional business models. Further, the directional shift from CAPEX à OPEX cycles will see the market focus more on brownfield assets/modernization-driven projects in short-term.

The emergence of new business and operational models mandates solution providers to steer towards digital solutions, as the need for outcomes and prescriptive insights grows. Also, another key trend in the market is the industry preference towards solution integration, enterprise-scale contextualization of insights and multi-site deployments. All of this steer an intense collaboration between IT (Information Technology) and OT (Operational Technology), which flattens out the traditional layered hierarchical architectures present in process and discrete industries. The flattening of automation architectures has led to the emergence of several digital industrial platform offerings such as Ability from ABB, Mindsphere from Siemens AG, PlantWeb Digital Ecosystem from Emerson, Predix from GE Digital, Lumada from Hitachi Corporation, Leonardo from SAP AG, Watson from IBM, to name a few.

“Digital industrial platforms will emerge as the cornerstone to unlock value and generate alternative revenue monetization streams from exiting products and solutions across the automation solutions market,” said Frost & Sullivan Industrial Automation & Process Control Research Analyst Ticaram Ramakrishnan. “Further, OT vendors’ development of digital solutions, will compete with traditional IT majors as value-levers move from hardware to software and outcome-based services.”

Further, opined by Frost & Sullivan’s Consulting Manager Muthuraman “Ram” Ramasamy – “2017 and beyond will be the era of industrials: every industry and end-market out there will be disrupted by digital in one form or the other. As fear, uncertainty and quest for sustainable performance grips the industry’s ecosystem, solution providers will diversify their focus from energy-centric value-chains to steady-growth hybrid industries, such as food and beverages and lifesciences.” Also, “Traditional automation companies will look to re-position and re-brand themselves in order to better serve customer pressure points. The race to become the next anchor for industrial markets has truly begun.”

Global Automation Industry Outlook, 2017, is part of Frost & Sullivan’s Industrial Automation & Process Control Growth Partnership subscription. The study examines the market for distributed control system (DCS), programmable logic controller (PLC), supervisory control and data acquisition system (SCADA), process safety system, machine safety systems, human-machine interface (HMI), variable frequency drive (VFD), operator training simulators (OTS), general motion control (GMC), sensors and transmitters, flowmeters, manufacturing execution systems (MES), enterprise asset management (EAM), and product lifecycle management (PLM) across key process and discrete industries, such as power, oil and gas, chemicals and petrochemicals, food and beverage, aerospace and defence, and automotive.

A major restraint to the global automation industry was the weakening of investments in the oil and gas segment. With oil prices recovering from late 2016, cautious optimism is obvious in most process industries, and investments are expected to see positive growth in the second half of 2017.

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