In recent times, Automation Systems are being widely used across various discrete and process industries to improve operational efficiency, thereby reducing cost as well as increasing productivity. Systems such as PLC, SCADA, DCS, Electric Drives and Motor Control Centers have been adopted widely to monitor and control various processes. For instance, major verticals such as Chemicals, Petrochemicals, Oil & Gas, Energy Management, Semiconductors, Water and Wastewater treatment and so forth bank on the reliability of these systems to run their plant safely and profitably. Therefore, it is not only important to identify and install the right systems, but also deliver maximum efficiency on the commissioned systems to support the growth of the end users. As the technical complexity of the automation system varies according to the application, a qualified service vendor support is crucial to maximize the benefits throughout the entire lifecycle. Hence, this article is focused on providing an overview of the various automation services available in the market.

Installation and Commissioning

Installation and commissioning services are required during the initial stages of the system’s lifecycle. Activities required to set-up the system which include hardware and software integration, control panel installation, sensor and device calibration, electrical wiring and so forth are involved in the installation services.  Commissioning services are focused on validating the system components and performance as required by the application. Their activities include validation of system’s wiring connection, routing, thermal dissipation, diagnostic checking, powering up, and providing a detailed report of the configuration and system performance. A successful commissioning ensures that the system will perform at the specified level, and make it available for full functioning within the end-user site. Start-up activities are crucial and require a team of certified technical professionals to complete the project implementation on time. Even though the overall project implementation will be handled by the Main Automation Contractor, complex system such as SCADA has to be installed and commissioned by the same vendor on a module level. Such protocols by the end-user underscore the necessity for reliable functioning of the system throughout the life of the equipment. Hence, system integrators and manufacturers will find constant demand from this segment of services.

Asset Maintenance Services

The set of activities that ensure the reliable operating performance of the automation systems during the asset lifecycle is classified under asset maintenance services.  These services include annual maintenance contracts, repairs, spare parts management, technical support, and services. Maintenance contracts involve activities such as periodical inspection and testing of the system as a part of preventive maintenance to diagnose risks that will cause unscheduled production downtime, thereby avoiding costly losses. Any fault detected in the system components is either repaired or replaced as per the facility and spare parts’ availability. Furthermore, their services include support for unexpected failure which requires immediate corrective maintenance. The corrective maintenance activities often require repair or replacement of components. Therefore, market participants with a strong inventory base, repair, and refurbishment facility, as well as technical expertise can secure long-term contracts. These long-term contracts will prove beneficial for large market participants such as system manufacturers, where the project size is huge. It is observed that long-term contracts for large projects will prove profitable especially after the warranty period, as each component replacement or repair will contribute additional revenue. It is also learned that critical verticals such as petrochemical refineries trust no other than the Main Automation Contractors and Vendor OEMs to handle maintenance activities, primarily because of the high level of risk that is associated with these systems. However, small projects and less sensitive applications for standardized systems such as PLC, Electric Drives, and Motor Control Centers are handled by local market participants, for which the market is highly fragmented with strong local presence.

Consulting Services

Automation systems are increasingly becoming a strategic focus in the key verticals to improve efficiency and productivity of the plant. As end users look to continuously improve their process capabilities, the importance to assess the current state of the automation system and evaluate the need for upgrades and component lifecycle extension becomes inevitable. These activities require immense technical expertise, which is often outsourced to consulting professional teams in the OEMs or other firms.  These consulting services usually involve a complete review, followed by a comprehensive assessment of the system based on customer requirement and provide a cost-effective and long-term solution to achieve their goals. Consulting services also opt for end-of-life services such as closure of facilities for comprehensive estimates and risk assessment. Furthermore, consulting services are necessary for the planning stage for project implementation to choose the right system with correct configurations. Consulting services are expected to face high demand as more manufacturing plants look to automate their production lines. Moreover, aging components, continuous improvement principles and so forth will constantly keep the demand for system upgrades.

Conclusion

In summary, automation system services are of paramount importance not only during and after the lifecycle of the system, but also for setting the roadmap for system sales in the planning stages of the project. The services market for automation systems will grow in the future considering more upgrades and new system installations. Market participants such as the system manufacturers and integrators are expected to play lead roles in the complex systems such as SCADA, DCS, and so forth. However, maintenance and repair services market will be wide open for non-manufacturers to handle standardized systems such as PLCs, Electric Drives, and Motor Control Centers. It is important for the system manufacturers to maintain a regional and local presence with certified technical experts to retain the trust among customers to grow in the market.

About Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

Frost & Sullivan

For six decades, Frost & Sullivan has been world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

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