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Users `still sceptical about automation software`

01 November, 2005

Users `still sceptical about automation software`

Automation software vendors face a challenging task to convince end-users to replace their PLCs with software-based systems such as HMIs (human-machine interfaces) and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) packages, says a new report.

Users are still sceptical about the reliability of PC hardware and the stability of PC operating systems, especially for running mission-critical applications, says the market analyst Frost & Sullivan. They are also worried about the security implications of the Internet reaching the manufacturing floor.

Because most industrial users are not willing to risk entrusting their production to software-based systems, software vendors need to offer SCADA and HMI software packages that come with embedded security tools, F&S suggests.

"Given that new technologies, such as Web services and mobile devices for monitoring and controlling processes, are yet to gather pace, automation vendors should concentrate on educating users on these technologies, emphasising on the benefits they could offer in terms of better return-on-investment, improved resource efficiency and higher throughput," says Amreetha Vijayakumar, a research analyst with F&S` Technical Insights service.

Vendors could also stress on the diagnostic and remote monitoring capabilities of the latest SCADA and HMI software packages.

In the long term, F&S argues, compliance laws will be the most significant driving factor for automation software, compelling manufacturers - especially in the pharmaceutical sector, food and beverages and automotive industries - to use HMI/SCADA systems.

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