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Survey Forecasts Trends In Control Market

May 10, 2005

Chromalox, a leading manufacturer of industrial heat and control systems, has recently completed an anonymous survey with active users of temperature and power control systems. Respondents clearly identified short-term plans for integrating digital control systems that include built-in diagnostic and predictive maintenance functions along with remote PC access.
Respondents expect to enhance their control systems by adding predictive maintenance and equipment diagnostic functions to help them manage information related to their process or application. Only 5% of those surveyed currently have temperature control
systems that include diagnostic or predictive maintenance capabilities. Yet, a full 75% said they expect to have these capabilities in 2 years, representing a strong demand for more intelligent temperature control systems.
Nearly 30% of those surveyed currently have some form of remote equipment monitoring technology, and another 20% expect to add remote control technology in 2005. 75% of respondents said they expect to have remote control systems in place within 2 years. That number is up from 50% in last year’s survey. While wireless technology is being used in only 17% of the manufacturing facilities surveyed, that number is expected to double in 2 years.
When asked, “What is the biggest challenge you face in your job for 2005,” 35% of respondents claimed budget constraints and 33% claimed increased productivity goals. While only 20% expect a decreased budget in 2005 (compared to 27% last year), 45% have an increased budget for 2005 and 35% have the same budget as last year. Staffing levels are expected to remain flat or increase this year, with 50% claiming no change, and 40% planning to increase staff.
76% of those surveyed said they expect production volumes to increase in 2005, with 28% forecasting a significant increase. Production increases are being driven by an increased demand for products (48%) and an expanded product line (28%).
In order to accommodate the growth in productivity while managing budgets conservatively, 55% of respondents said their plants will install improved production technology in 2005. 40% will invest in supply chain improvements and lean manufacturing techniques. Software integration problems continue to be the number one problem managers have when installing new technology into a facility, as identified by 45% of participants. Following closely are insufficient budget (45%), insufficient time (40%), and hardware integration issues (40%). These numbers are consistent with last year’s results.
Plant security has become an issue in the news since the government introduced its Public Health Security & Bioterrorism Preparedness & Response Act, but 50% of the people in this survey claim there has been no impact on their operations, and 35% claim minimal impact. 40% said they have not changed any of their security systems related to plan operations and control. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, participants rated the overall security of their own plant operations as 7.5. The survey was anonymous and distributed to 6000 users in a wide range of process and manufacturing industries in February 2005. Respondents were most commonly in engineering management or engineering technical staff positions, although there were a small number of manufacturing managers, corporate managers, purchasing managers, and production staff included. The one hundred fifty responses represent a 2.5 percent response rate.
To view the survey results, go to

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