Process Automation Systems

Reed Research Group surveyed Control Engineering subscribers in November 2008 about their use of process automation systems. Selected results presented here are based on 128 completed responses from subscribers who evaluate, specify, recommend, install, and/or purchase process automation systems (PAS).


PAS capabilities desired


Reed Research Group surveyed Control Engineering subscribers in November 2008 about their use of process automation systems. Selected results presented here are based on 128 completed responses from subscribers who evaluate, specify, recommend, install, and/or purchase process automation systems (PAS). Among these, 70% are involved with PAS solely for their own plants, while 14% do so only for OEM resale, and 16% for OEM or end user requirements, depending on the project. Overall, most respondents expect their spending on PAS to remain the same or decrease in 2009, compared to 2008.


Among other issues addressed in the survey, respondents were asked the most- and least-implemented capabilities of their process automation systems, and why they may not be fully using the capabilities of their current systems, if that is indeed the case. Results are shown in the graphics accompanying this article.


Using a list of PAS vendors, survey respondents also identified the following providers as leading suppliers of process automation systems: Rockwell Automation, Siemens Energy & Automation, Emerson Process Management, GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms, ABB, Honeywell Process Solutions, Invensys Process Systems, Yokogawa Electric, Mitsubishi Electric Automation, and Schneider Electric. Representative products from these vendors are shown here. Additional results, links, and product information from these vendors are available with this article online at for January 2009.



Author Information

Senior editor Renee Robbins can be reached at .



PAS capabilities desired

View the survey online to find advice about selecting PASs, and the extent of use of specific capabilities and functions, such as embedded loop tuning aids, wireless technology, or fieldbus support. When respondents were asked to write in important capabilities not on our list, they identified the following:


Ability to go into and edit reports


Cross functionality, with the ability to integrate with other control systems


Ease of troubleshooting from an operational view, access to troubleshooting HMI screens


Ease of use for field personnel (standard platforms and configurations, standard HMI and PLCs between projects and systems)


HMI embedded operating procedures tied to system control states (which helps with secure troubleshooting and maintenance)


Multi-integration interface for machine data collection of process performance


Protection from external networks (to avoid costly re-qualification of equipment after virus attacks)


Radio telemetry integration for remote management.


Remote diagnostic capabilities for system level and engineering sub-functions


Sample and demo code (makes it easier to configure and understand hardware and software relationships)

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