Collaborative Process Automation System offers a game-changing opportunity

New ARC report provides vision of the future of process automation systems for the process industries


The application of Internet technology to process automation promises to collapse these systems into a paradoxically simple structure, while providing a solid basis for distributed intelligence with the elimination of artificial barriers to data and information. However the installed control systems of today remain remarkably similar in structure to when Distributed Control Systems (DCS) were introduced 35 years ago.

After more than eight years of research, ARC Advisory Group has published the second edition of its highly successful Collaborative Process Automation Systems (CPAS) study. This report identifies technologies, standards, and principles that describe what a state-of-the-art process automation system could and should be, based on end user needs and the application of available standards and technology. This second release, dubbed CPAS 2.0, enhances the original CPAS by adding more detail and clarity of purpose to the vision.

CPAS 2.0 Targets Process Industries
Owner/operators as well as automation systems, instrumentation, and operations management software suppliers in such segments as chemicals; petroleum; coal; textiles and apparel; metal; wood; minerals; paper; printing and publishing; and consumables, such as food, pharmaceuticals, beverages, and tobacco, are the intended audience for CPAS 2.0. Readers should think of CPAS as an application-enabling environment for process control, advanced process control, and operations management applications, plus human empowerment applications such as decision support and advanced analytics.

Both owner/operators and automation technology and solution suppliers can use this report for guidance in developing their own unique approach to their requirements. End users of process automation systems want to have technology that can easily adapt to the business environment changes. ARC feels that CPAS 2.0 describes just such a system. Suppliers want to provide their customer the best technical solutions, while providing compelling reasons to return to them in the future for additional innovative ways to meet their business requirements. ARC believes that CPAS 2.0 provides clarity to removing the technology roadblocks and dead-ends that have hindered some designs in the past.

ARC states that the guiding principles outlined in CPAS are time-tested over more than a decade. However, meeting these principles may require some suppliers to move more effectively in using available and proven technology with out-of-the-box thinking. For the end user, it will require many to use new ways to evaluate suppliers of process automation other than lowest bidder on a request for quotation (RFQ). Users need to evaluate suppliers from a lifecycle and performance perspective, while suppliers need to be able to assure value throughout the lifecycle.

Process Industry Needs Game-Changing Ideas
ARC believes that the industry is mature and ready for game-changing ideas in the expanded roll of the process automation system. Suppliers and owner/operators alike should understand that CPAS 2.0 goes far beyond what is traditionally thought of as being a distributed control system, and uses a very broad definition of automation. CPAS 2.0 makes every attempt to break down artificial barriers to allow information to flow as required to accomplish the required purpose.

Users and suppliers alike should understand as ARC believes that CPAS is not a single supplier environment, but that it is a combination of structure, technologies, and guiding principles that allow it to act as if it were provided by a single supplier. Both users and suppliers can then focus on what they need to be best at providing for their prospective customers.

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