A New Generation of Distributed Control System Is Redefining Process Control

Distributed Control System (DCS) suppliers are defining a new generation of products in which industrial control systems will be virtualized and “software-defined” to a much greater degree than today. In parallel, the largely end user-driven Open Process Automation Forum (OPAF), an effort initiated by ExxonMobil in 2016, seeks to define “a standards-based, open, secure, and interoperable process control architecture that applies across multiple process industries.” The functions of any DCS in today’s plants could be replaced by these new systems, which consist of both servers and small automation edge devices. ExxonMobil sees its existing ICS applications moving gradually from the installed DCS to these small devices or to on-premise, high- availability servers that can virtualize them.

"The OPAF focuses on standardizing systems for ISA95 level 1 and 2 functions. These are basic inputs and outputs from field devices and regulatory control function block execution. Today, these functions are performed in proprietary DCS and PLC process controllers, which are sized to support roughly 100 to 1,000 function blocks each. ExxonMobil and other end user firms envision automation systems with many more, but much smaller, process controllers. These smaller hardware devices would control as few as one to two loops each, creating what are in effect microservices for process automation.," according to Harry Forbes, Senior Analyst and key author of ARC's Distributed Control Systems Market Research Report.

Distributed Control System Market Trends

In addition to providing detailed competitive market share data, the report also addresses key market trends as follows:

  • Cloud Computing
  • Compute Is Moving to the Edge 
  • Configurable/Characterizable I/O 
  • Ethernet-APL
  • Industry 4.0 and NAMUR Open Architecture (NOA) 
  • OPC Foundation Growth Activities
  • Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) Convergence 
  • Operations Management
  • Software Convergence
  • Software-defined Process Automation 
  • Virtualization

Leading Suppliers to the Distributed Control Systems Market Identified

In addition to providing specific market data and industry trends, this ARC market research also identifies and positions the leading suppliers to this market and provides and summarizes their relevant offerings. An alphabetical list of key suppliers covered in this analysis includes: ABB, Emerson Automation Solutions, Honeywell, Siemens, Yokogawa.

About the Distributed Control Systems Research

DCS Strategic IssuesThe Distributed Control Systems report explores the current and future market performance and related technology and business trends and identifies leading technology suppliers. This new research is based on ARC’s industry-leading market research database, extensive primary and secondary research, and proprietary economic modelling techniques. The research includes competitive analysis, plus five-year market forecasts and 1 year of historical analysis segmented by Revenue Category, Sales Channel, World Region, Industry, Customer Type, Service Revenues by Type, Project Type, Hardware by Type, Application Type, and System Size.

This new research is available in a variety of formats to meet the specific research and budgetary requirements of a wide variety of organizations. These include:

  • Market Intelligence Workbook (Excel Power Pivot): A standard Workbook includes the base year market data and a five-year market forecast. This workbook enables licensed users to freely manipulate the data to make it easier to analyze the latest data for business intelligence and generate custom reports. Available with 1 year of historical analysis.
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