Automation Services Defined

By Larry O'Brien

Industry Trends

Types of Automation Services

Automation suppliers have been providing an increasingly wide range of services both for their own products, systems, and applications as well as for competitors. Automation services include all services provided by process and discrete automation suppliers associated with automation products and systems at various points in the lifecycle of the plant. ARC breaks down the major phases of the plant lifecycle into consulting, engineering and design, installation, operations, maintenance, and decommissioning. The three core phases of the plant Lifecycle for the services business – and where most supplier-provided, high-value-added services are targeted – are installation, operations, and maintenance. The installation phase includes training, config-uration, commissioning, and startup. The operations phase includes services, such as re-mote monitoring, loop tuning, and performance management services. The maintenance phase includes all aspects of systems, device, and equipment maintenance, including calibration and condition monitoring services.


Consulting includes feasibility studies and planning for automation pro-jects. Many suppliers offer consulting services for their clients, but this is Automation Services across the Plant Lifecycle

seldom a big business for them and usually not a moneymaker. For the suppliers and system integrators that provide consulting services, however, the quality of service provided in the consulting phase can make or break a deal.

Engineering and Design

This phase begins with front-end engineering and design (FEED) and in-cludes engineering activities related to the areas of control system and instrumentation engineering design. These include piping and instrumen-tation diagrams (P&IDs) and other control and instrumentation basic engineering, detailed engineering, and related IT-based hardware and software engineering.

Control and instrumentation basic engineering includes activities required to specify the requirements for process automation within a facility, as well as basic system design and system specification necessary for procurement of a system.

Control and instrumentation detailed engineering activities include hard-ware (elementary diagrams and P&IDs) and software design and customization. These activities follow the basic design engineering and culminate with the software and hardware configuration, programming, program documentation, final drawings, and pre-shipment testing of all equipment.

Installation, Commissioning, and Checkout

This segment includes the installation, commissioning, checkout, and startup activities surrounding automation systems, software, and instru-mentation. Commissioning activities include all the direct and indirect labor costs involved with the commissioning of the automation equipment required for the facility, including services necessary to checkout all sensors and software according to the design criteria. Commissioning begins once the equipment installation has been completed and continues until the sup-pliers pass all required compliance and performance tests. Training is also included in this category.

Types of Automation Services


The operations phase of the lifecycle deals with all activities required to run the combined assets of the plant on an ongoing basis. The operations phase of the lifecycle is the largest and has the most significant impact on lifecycle

cost. Operations also includes services designed to keep plant assets run-ning at an optimal level, including remote system monitoring, loop tuning and analysis, and dynamic performance management services.


The maintenance services portion of the automation facility lifecycle in-cludes all activities required to maintain process equipment. This category includes spare parts, software version upgrades and patches, field device calibration, condition monitoring services related to rotating and other equipment, and other ongoing maintenance related services. Maintenance begins once the equipment has passed all required compliance and perfor-mance tests.


The decommissioning phase of an asset deals with the channeling of the residual value of an asset after the completion of its useful life through re-cycling, rebuilding, or disposal. The decommissioning category includes all services related to the decommissioning, dismantling of automation installations, related products, and devices, but not to whole facilities.

Engage with ARC Advisory Group