The digital transformation of process automation

June 23, 2020
Aiming to improve operational flexibility and asset performance in an ongoing effort

No trend in the past thirty years likely will revolutionize chemical processing as much as the imminent implementation of “digital transformation” technologies and practices. This transformation encompasses a proliferation of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors and actuators, a flood of time-series data, and exponential growth in computers directly participating in plant operations. However, one central concept — low-cost implementation of change — will drive the real power and productivity benefits of digital transformation, namely, the ability to make rapid, iterative and data-driven innovations to plant operations at a fraction of the cost previously possible. This demands overcoming the restrictions to innovation created by closed proprietary systems.

Numerous factors are driving this need: global markets and competition make laggards in innovation unsustainable; changing environmental laws and sensitivities require new tools for compliance; and reimagined capital budgets consider operational flexibility and profitability not only efficiency and safety.

Digital transformation and asset performance maximization place a call on business systems, cloud and computing architectures, and process automation and control systems that operate manufacturing plants. Major global industrial and chemical companies are collaborating with leading process automation vendors and system integrators to accelerate this revolutionary change in automation through the adoption of The Open Group Open Process Automation Standard (O-PAS).

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