Is CPAS Still Relevant in the Emerging Open Process Automation Era?

By Dick Hill

ARC Report Abstract


In 2002, ARC Advisory Group coined the term Collaborative Process Automation Systems (CPAS) to describe a vision of how we believed open process automation systems should evolve.  The associated report included a detailed explanation of the guiding principles behind the CPAS vision.

Evolving Open Process Automation

Distributed control system (DCS) technology, the dominant process automation system technology at the time, was first introduced in 1975.  While this technology proved adequate for large-scale process control in plants across a wide range of industries (the heavy process industries in particular), the highly proprietary nature of those DCS's limited interoperability with other plant and enterprise systems.

Much innovation occurred in the intervening years, but most DCSs remained largely proprietary.  In 2015, ARC came out with an updated “CPAS 3.0” report.  CPAS 3.0 further describes the evolution and paints a vision of what could be achieved to make process automation more collaborative (people and processes) and adaptive (improve lifecycle management).  Many ARC clients – end users and suppliers alike – expressed significant interest in this vision and the underlying technologies.

At the 2016 ARC Industry Forum in Orlando, executives from ExxonMobil introduced the company’s open process automation initiative.  Two years later, the resulting Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF), a forum of The Open Group, has more than 125 member companies, including leaders from both the technology end user and supplier communities.  So, is CPAS still relevant today in light of the current Open Process Automation Foundation initiative and other trends such as IIoT, Industrie 4.0, NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA), digital transformation, IT-OT convergence, cloud and edge computing, etc.?

CPAS Guiding Principles and open process automation dhcpasoa.JPG

While some technological differences exist between CPAS and OPAF, based on our recent review of the CPAS guiding principles, ARC believes that these are just as valid today as they were when CPAS was introduced over a decade ago and – in fact – apply equally for both CPAS and OPAF.

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Keywords: CPAS, DCS, Digital Transformation, OPAF, OpX, ROA, TCO, ARC Advisory Group.

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