Process Automation in India Maximum Potential for the Global Automation Market in Developing Countries

Author / Editor: PRASANTA KUMAR CHATTERJEE / Dominik Stephan

With the rapid growth of process industry in developing markets such as India, the need for high level automation is increasing. Today’s process plant owners’ demands are very specific: A time has come when the knowledge gap between the users and the vendors need to be addressed...

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Camera-based barcode readers can help pharmaceutical plant operators in keeping track of fast moving labelled products
Camera-based barcode readers can help pharmaceutical plant operators in keeping track of fast moving labelled products
(Source: Cognex Corporation)

Recently, analysts from TechNavio (the research platform of Infiniti Research) have forecast, “The Global Plant Automation Solution Market (is) to grow at a CAGR of 7.4 over the period 2011-2015. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is – companies complying with governments‘ regulations and policies.

The Global Plant Automation Solution Market has also been witnessing the adoption of industry-specific solutions. However, the continuous decline in the average selling price could pose a challenge to the growth of this market.”


US and Western Europe – Dominating the Automation Market

According to the analysts, the key vendors dominating this market space include ABB, Siemens, Emerson Electric, Honeywell International and Rockwell Automation. Commenting on the report, an analyst from TechNavio‘s Engineering Services team has said, “The Global Plant Automation Solution Market is mainly driven by process industries. The US and Western Europe have been dominating the market due to the presence of a large number of process manufacturing companies.”

Emerging Markets to Take the Lead in Process Automation

However, many process manufacturing industries are now growing faster in developing countries – such as China, India, Brazil and Poland. For instance, the pharma industry is one of the major end-users of plant automation solutions, and this industry is growing rapidly in China, India and Eastern Europe countries.” The scenario is more vividly explained by the ARC analyst Steve Clouther’s observation, that process automation suppliers see big revenue growth on the emerging markets...

Referring to the Automation Solution Market at the end of 2011, Clouther says, “Automation suppliers continued to see revenue growth at the close of 2011, though previous double-digit percentage increases in revenue have given way to smaller numbers. Manufacturers continue to increase production capacity and efficiency, with rising energy prices driving activity in the Oil & Gas (O&G) sector. Process industry (automation) suppliers saw continued, though more sedate, year-on-year growth and reported strong order activity.

Process Plants in Asia Emerging at Huge Pace

Thus, the faster developing countries hold the pie as far as the Global Plant Automation Solution Market is concerned. India, being the second fastest developing economy in Asia, where new process plants are coming up at a huge pace, and owing to the local process plant owners’ zeal for catching up with the global standards, offers tremendous business potential to the process plant automation vendors.

Potential in India: A Future Chemicals and Pharma Hub?

Right at this moment if we look at the global scenario, most of the manufacturers from European countries are shifting or planning to move their process plants in the fast growing Asian countries. Obviously, it is a great opportunity for India. In the US generics market, drugs worth Rs. 48.45 lakh crore are to go off- patent between 2012 to 2015, where again Indian drug companies have huge potential to grab a good market share.

Thus, India has tremendous potential to emerge as a global chemicals and pharmaceuticals manufacturing hub. However, to grab the opportunity, the domestic players have to be highly competitive by raising quality of their products, adopting the latest production technologies, offering maximum level of safety to the plant workers and following all the compliances...

Under such circumstances, automating the process plants is absolutely essential to maintain the highest level of productivity, best safety standard, maximum energy efficiency and the best adherence to the compliance rules. Indian decision makers have already started realising this fact.

The Paradigm Shift: From Manual to Automation

It is wellknown that even a few years back, the process automation space was almost out of focus, especially in India. Although, internationally it is said that in India – labour cost is cheap, it is in comparison with that in developed countries. Otherwise, as per an IHS report, in 2010 itself, on the back of high inflation and a recovery in domestic demand, manufacturing labour costs in India rose by nearly 20 per cent (compared to 2009), when China trailed behind it by around 10 per cent.

Thus, the upward trend in labour cost, non-availability of trained manpower, awareness in regard to safety, zeal for becoming globally competitive offering high quality products at low cost, increasing need for monitoring and real-time visibility of the complex processes, uprising pressure for energy conservation, growing need for maximum plant capacity utilisation and ensuring process reliability, and compliance pressure today have compelled the Indian process plant decision makers to deviate from the traditional thinking, and search for possibilities of deploying latest automation technologies in their plants – A growing awareness has reached the industry, insiders believe....

A Growing Awareness

Owing to the growing social awareness, economic restructuring and technological advancements, since last few years, the Indian process plant automation market scenario has changed drastically. Majority of the Indian process plant decision makers are now quite aware of their needs, and look for the best solution, where cost factor is often not the only determining criterion. A number of automation vendors in India are now well-equipped to provide support to the Indian process plant owners with their latest technologies.

Process Automation in India: Where's the Catch?

Some technological innovations; such as availability of highly sensitive sensors, extremely efficient actuators, advent of advanced wireless technology, reduced form factors of hardware components, development of materials for harsh environments, availability of smart machine vision cameras and development of extremely intelligent control software have aided them to noticeably enrich their catalogues.

But, still a stumbling block lies on the way of implementing the automation solutions. As each and every process plant has its own set of challenges, fresh automation engineers sometimes fail to address them because of lack of process experience. This gap needs to be bridged with the combined effort from the vendor and the user.

* Brought to you PROCESS India.