Regulations drive automation in W&W in Europe

The European water and wastewater (W&WW) sector has been offering sustainable opportunities for the automation and control solutions (ACS) market mainly due to supportive legislation. Stringent regulations and intervention from private participants have paved the way for prospective growth opportunities for ACS in the European W&WW sector. Additionally, investments from the developing economies of the Central and Eastern European (CEE) regions contribute to building more automated plants in Europe.

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New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Strategic Analysis of Automation and Control Solutions in European Water and Wastewater Sector, finds that the market earned revenues of $623.3 (€500+)  million in 2009, and estimates this to reach $825.5 (€670+) million in 2016. The markets covered in this research service by product type are programmable logic controller (PLC), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), disturbed control system (DCS), human machine interface (HMI), manufacturing execution systems (MES) and industrial asset management (IAM).

The majority of Europe has poor networking with regard to water distribution and wastewater treatment. EU directives such as the Water Frame Work Directive, Drinking Water Directive and Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive are the main political drivers that have catalysed strong opportunities for treatment techniques such as membrane bio-reactor (MBR), ozone and ultraviolet (UV).

“European Union’s directives are the major driver for the growth of automation and control systems across the water and wastewater sector, mandating the European countries to comply,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Katarzyna Owczarczyk. “The primary focus of the regulations is to enhance the water and the wastewater infrastructure in order to concentrate on incorporating the ACS system to completely automate the plant, help in continually tracking several production processes, and also effectively control and maintain various plant operations.”

The accession countries face the impact of EU regulations the most due to the timeframe within which they have to transpose the directives into actions. Regions such as Eastern Europe, but also others like Iberia, parts of Italy, and Benelux are undertaking large-scale implementation of water treatment plants. Significantly, European Union is funding the new member states from the CEE region to improve their W&WW infrastructure through the cohesion fund mechanism, leading to a plethora of design, build and operate (DBO) opportunities. All these initiatives are likely to spur growth of the European ACS market for the W&WW industry.

However, a key challenge faced by ACS manufacturers is the need to provide systems that seamlessly integrate with the existing plant infrastructure.

“The end users are conservative when it comes to revamping the existing systems in order to incorporate latest automation and control solutions,” explains Owczarczyk. “Integration issues along with the cost involved in revamping make the end users reluctant, and consequently either prohibiting or delaying the implementation of newer automation and control solutions.”

“Manufacturers should reassure customers about their products’ compatibility and urge them to adapt to the new systems,” he concludes. “Besides providing automation systems that are compatible with the existing plant set-up, suppliers can also retain the cost and engineering inputs from the earlier set-up.”

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