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Who's at the core of industrial automation sourcing process?

22 Jun 2015  | William Ng

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Based on our study, today's system engineers and project managers hold closely to four pillars when sourcing automation components and systems: quality/reliability, ease of use, technical capability and total installation cost. When it comes to selecting automation suppliers, they similarly subscribe to four predominant factors: on-time delivery, applications and product support, price, and knowledgeable sales staff.

Supplier quality and supply chain robustness is important to these specifiers, as well. The ratio of Design News respondents who use approved vendors to those who don't was practically two to one – 66 per cent versus 34 per cent—and 57 per cent of them have a hand in establishing preferred vendor lists. And these lists are looked at and evaluated on a yearly basis by 60 per cent of industry professionals.

Moreover, our engineering respondents have no qualms about making the extra effort to find the best vendors for their project situations and needs, so much so that a single-source solution was their least important sourcing criterion, finishing dead last in the criteria range. Again, there was a two-to-one ratio between engineers and project managers who prefer using a combination of best-of-breed vendors and those who go after one-vendor solutions.

Amid all the discussion and industry coverage about the Industrial Internet of Things, it ranked among system and project engineering professionals' last responses to the question of what they expect will be the most important trends making an impact on their design cycles in the next 12 to 24 months. Continuing development of M2M solutions fared slightly better but still finished in the bottom half of responses, along with factory energy monitoring and control and industrial cyber security.

Encouraging, though, the top five responses by Design News' community members suggest automation users are slowly working their way over to the IIoT, highlighted by the "most impactful trends" of integrated automation, remote connectivity, smart-field devices (actuators and sensors) and wireless factory apps.

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