Advanced metering market

Advanced Metering Infrastructure Market to Grow at Fast Rate, States Frost & Sullivan. Revenues expected to triple – Massive opportunities for communication systems and network, meter data management (MDM), customer and programme data management

SmartMetersLegislation and standardisation are set to catalyse the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) market in Europe. Market participants are working towards standardisation and fulfilling regulatory requirements for the development of smart meters and AMI to begin mass rollouts. In Ireland we are faced with metering of domestic water supply in the short term future for instance.

New analysis from Frost & SullivanEuropean Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Market, finds that the AMI revenue in Europe is expected to grow from €85m ($1.13b) in 2011 to €2.8b ($3.72b) in 2016 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.9%. The research covers smart meters, installation, communication systems and network, meter data management (MDM) and customer and programme data management.

“Emerging smart grid technologies, which support enhanced energy management, will boost the installation of AMI in Europe,” noted Frost & Sullivan Energy & Power Supplies Research Analyst Neha Vikash. “The market is expected to witness higher growth not only in smart meters and the installation segments, but also in communications networks, MDM, customer and programme data management segments as well.” Most companies in the AMI space are not just the hardware (meter) providers. They combine them with important services and appropriate functionalities in communication infrastructure and data management. These are the key technologies for the deployment of innovative solutions. Installation of hardware does not generate a constant stream of revenue.

Despite its obvious benefits, smart meter implementation reveals regional disparities. Market growth has been faster in Western and Northern Europe. The lack of regulatory drive and utility implementations has affected installation rates in Central and Eastern Europe. It is expected that the smart metering activity in the CEE region will follow the Western European knowledge wave and experience. “It is also expected that once large scale roll out activity begins in Central and Eastern Europe, the pace of implementation will be faster compared to that of Western Europe,” concluded Vikash. “Regulatory approval, along with increased competition, aging infrastructure, and new technology will continue to drive investments in advanced metering and intelligent grid technologies.”

Nevertheless, EU member states that lack the regulatory push for deployment will experience large-scale implementation after 2015, as they have to comply with the EU’s Third Energy Directive, or pay a high penalty fee.

“AMI is an important step towards achieving the EU 20-20-20 goal which states that by 2020, 80 per cent of households must have smart meters and complete rollout achieved by 2022,” elaborated Vikash. “Government mandates will, therefore, be a key driver for AMI deployment.”

In addition to legislation, the lack of communication standards and security issues also play a major role in determining market prospects. In fact, data security is an issue among all member states, but it is of higher importance in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. This has resulted in a delay in smart meter roll out plans by utilities.

“Standardisation is likely to affect future smart meter sales, development and innovation,” concluded Vikash. “Meters complying with security requirements as per the standardisation mandate as well as satisfying regional legislative security requirements are likely to encourage customers to adopt smart meters.”

Stats and figures! How the Signpost fared in 2012!

Comments, figures and observations at the start of 2013!

The end of the year is the time we look back and forward and we have had a brief look at some of the figures shown at our various sites.

Happy New Year!

Vale atque ave!

Our blogsites showed the most spectacular growth. We started in March 2009 when we had 67 visitors and by the end of the year almost 3,000 had visited them By the end of the current year  the figure will top 146000.

Our main page showed steady interest but little growth and has remained stable over the past three years. Nonetheless more people use this as a jump-off point to the blogs and other links we feature and the site is updated regularly. The complete archive of the site is also maintained with monthly updates.

Popular Pages
We have had some surprises in which pages proved popular. Alway high on the list after the home page is our acronym page. But this year this was exceeded by our Blogs/Discussion Groups’ Page. This probably reflects the growing trend of interactivity on the internet. In fact the most full list of Automation Blogs is on the left-hand column of our InstSignpost blog.

The, to us, most surprising stat this year is the popularity of our story on preserving wine, published last May. It topped the most popular stories list on three separate months and accounts for just over 4% of our visitors. We had come across this method in one of our favourite restaurants in Clifden, Conamara. A second popular story which surprised us was a Frost & Sullivan story on Test Equipment in the CIS, which was actually published in December of 2011. This story has consistently been in the top most popular stories throughout the year. We were a little disappointed that our page on ICS & SCADA Security, which is primarily a compilation of links to various articles since Stuxnet was discovered in 2009 – the page was set up in May so may not have had a chance to “catch up” on the more popular pages.

Treatment of comments, trash or spam?
We receive quite a lot of comments which are simply attempts at advertising or simply honest-to-God spam. These are always trashed and sometimes reported as spam if appropriate. If anybody wishes to advertise, or publicise automation products we welcome relevant product, company people and technology news – news on Automation or Test & Measurement and allied topics. Below is an example of the type of message. Maybe the sender “savored every little bit of it,” but we feel that this enthusiasm might perhaps be a little over the top when we are talking about Stuxnet and her children!

Genuine comment?

Genuine comment?

Social Media

During the year twitter stopped automatically linking our posts to Linked in so we started a LinkedIn Read-out Group where we post some of our stories which can be automatically linked to our twitter page. This is in addition to our Facebook Page where each and every story is listed. The facebook page is now followed by 200 people. We have 620 connections on LinkedIn .  Twitter is an important resource for us. We have learned several important events and trends from twitter like the discovery of the Stuxnet, the first malware directed at the automation sector. We have something like 600 followers on that platform. We also share other material on twitter to do with our other interests mostly with Irish topics, language and “dúchas”.(sometimes translated as “culture” but perhaps more accuratly understood as the “innate quality of national identity!”)

How reliable are these figures?
We have always treated these figure with some scepticism as we pointed out in an article in 2011 – Lies, damn lies and statistics! They have a limited use as guide, perhaps a comfort, that the work put into maintaining our internet presence is at least looked at and is presumably and hopefully useful  to some of those who visit.

We look forward to welcoming you to our pages during 2013.

Most popular pages

Home page 53%
Blogs/Discussion Groups 8%
Acronyms Page 6%
News Page 5%
What’s best for preserving wine: Vacuum or Pressure? 4%
Events Page 3%
Welcome/Fáilte 3%
Test equipment in CIS region 3%
Fieldbus Page 3%
Education & Training Page 2%
Delivering operational excellence forum 1%
Static earthing protection for road tankers 1%
Radar level measurement best practice 1%
New Test + Measurement catalogue 1%
Developing a 3D Optical surface profilometer 1%
Wireless strain gauge sensors 1%

Our visitors came from:

Vistor locations!

Visitor locations!

United States 53.0%
Great Britain 8.4%
Germany 7.5%
India 6.6%
France 4.7%
Norway 4.6%
Russia 4.4%
Ireland 2.8%
Netherlands 1.4%
Republic of Korea (South) 1.1%
Canada 0.6%
Australia 0.5%
Brazil 0.5%

• Note that the figure for the US is probably exagerated as a lot of .com IDs are included here and not all are located in the USA.

Developing economies’ growth fuels DCS market in Asia.


The major growth in Distributed Control Systems (DCS) revenues continues to come from developing nations. Growth in countries such as India and China is conspicuous because of sluggish growth rates in other regions of the world. While developed nations are just holding their own (at best) in DCS investments, in developing countries, several recent trends are becoming increasingly important for success in the DCS business. These two countries are undergoing rapid growth and industrialization in Asia. At the time of this report, however, China’s growth is slowing. Even with a slowdown in China, Asia remains a leading growth engine for the global DCS marketplace, representing almost 35 percent of the world market.

ARC expects the top five growth industries in Asia to be oil & gas, mining & metals, cement & glass, water & wastewater, and electric power, in that order, with associated increases in DCS revenues. The growth of these industries is expected to be above average. Demand for oil will continue to increase in the long term despite short-term demand shortfalls. Oil exploration and production is taking the industry into increasingly remote and hostile regions, increasing demand for remote operations and subsea production. The power industry is also growing at a healthy rate over the forecast period. Developing economies, such as India and China, continue to invest in new power capacities and world-class power generation facilities. While pent up demand for mining & metals and cement & glass investments caused sizeable increases from 2010 to 2011, the growth is expected to return to a more moderate level over the forecast period.

ARC Foresees the Robust Growth of DCS in Asia
graph-distributed-control-systems-india-crAccording to ARC Advisory Group’s research, the total distributed control systems market in Asia will exceed $6,300 million in 2016. ARC’s latest study, “Distributed Control Systems for Asia Market Research Study” provides an in-depth analysis of the DCS business in Asia. In addition to market analysis and forecasts, the study also covers the current market nuances, strategic issues, and the future outlook. The report also highlights the factors that influence the DCS market in Asia and its dynamics.

G. Ganapathiraman, Country Manager, ARC Advisory Group, India and co-author of this study says, “The trends that drive the DCS business in Asia vastly differ from those in developed nations. Due to the economic growth in China and India along with the other BRIC countries, investments in infrastructure, oil and gas production, and in refining are rising, leading to increased demand for DCS.”

In 2011, ARC saw a much larger increase in revenue over 2010 than previously anticipated. The order book started improving at the end of 2009 and was quite strong throughout 2010 and the first half of 2011. Because the DCS business is primarily project based with an average nine month lag time from order book to recognized revenue, this strong order book translated into an excellent revenue year for 2011 with Asia’s revenue up over 4.5 percent from 2010.

British robot best ever year forecast


If it wasn’t impressive enough with sales of robots from January to March 2012 outstripping sales in any other quarter to date, then sales for the first two quarters have now exceeded all previous full year sales on record!

In the first quarter robot sales of 923 units were recorded which is larger than the annual total for many of the previous years. The second quarter brought this figure to 2000 for the half year end.  However, automotive and automotive component orders contributed 85% of this figure in the first quarter and 89% of the sales in the second. This trend appears to be continuing, at least in the short term. Whilst in most other sectors robot sales are increasing, the growth still remains sluggish and in some sectors in sporadic decline.

Mike Wilson, British Automation and Robot Association Chairman said “whilst we welcome the level of robot orders from the automotive sector largely driven by product demand in global emerging markets, it is a real concern that other sectors are still not understanding the potential implications of not automating. Other countries such as China, Germany and most of the major European manufacturing nations are investing heavily in automation to sustain competitive advantage. Part of the problem in the UK is a short term approach and the perception that the pay back period is longer than it often is”.

Allen Green Managing Director of A K Industries who recently completed the free government automating manufacturing review, available to all British manufacturers said “we have recently had our automation review carried out on site and we have found this very useful.  The automation expert has highlighted several areas that we could cost effectively automate and the pay back period is a lot shorter than we had thought. We are pleased that the government is prepared to help UK manufacturing take the next steps in remaining competitive in an ever increasingly global market place. We have just completed our first 6-axis robotic cell”.

Automating Manufacturing
The British government’s drive to automate  manufacturing is going extremely well according to Grant Collier, Head of Marketing for the PPMA Group of Associations managing the programme “over 220 manufacturers around the UK have taken up the Government funded Automating Manufacturing Programme which shows manufacturers how they can benefit from automation.” Applications to date have come from a wide range of industries, including over one third from the food sector which is surprising since this has traditionally been an area very slow to adopt automation. He added, “the initial review is fully funded by the UK government with no obligation to take it further, the application process is simple, all companies should be looking at this as a route to improve their manufacturing operations”.

Photoelectric sensors collapse and rebound!

Market for photoelectric sensors faces increasing demand for smart sensors and price pressure

The market for photoelectric sensors experienced a collapse and a dramatic rebound in the last three years.  The market is now back to the development behavior that we have seen in the past.  As the market is strongly dependent on the investment climate, the situation has recently worsened, but ARC still expects a rather positive development for the coming years.

The market for smart sensing in the area of photoelectric sensors refers to all sensors that expand the traditional capabilities of fixed measuring and switching.

“Photoelectric sensors have long been in a position in which there was simply no alternative, but now ultrasonic sensors as well as low-end vision sensors are targeting the same applications.  While photoelectric sensors are still price competitive, they also add value for end users with more functions,” says ARC Analyst Florian Güldner, the principal author of ARC’s Photoelectric Sensors Worldwide Outlook

Dependency on Investment Cycles Challenges Suppliers
The demand for sensing is increasing with overall demand for sensors rising faster than for industrial automation in general.  Still, the investment climate overshadows technological effects and trends from the plant floor.  Growth in photoelectric sensors is directly linked to the business cycle.

Automation demand is often supported by the spare parts business, modernization projects, and longer project lead times.  But sensor suppliers cannot count on these dynamics.  In contrast, the relatively high share of sales through distributors emphasizes the effects from investment as distributors empty/fill up their stocks at the beginning of a development.

Flexibility and the willingness to diversify are key characteristics of successful sensor suppliers.  Many are adopting a more solution-oriented business model targeted at measurement, quality control, or safety applications.

Is Smart Sensing a Benefit for the End User?
Smart sensors make the lives of machine builders easier as they reduce the number of suppliers and parts, and help to reduce engineering time.  Smart sensing includes photoelectric sensors, that can self-adjust to the environment, can be configured remotely, can house more than one sensing technology (light barrier, diffuse etc.), can be used for measuring and switching, and that help to detect errors such as a dirty lens or a broken cable.

With all these capabilities, sensors can help to make machines more flexible, shorten changeover times, and minimize planned and unplanned downtime.  Whether or not photoelectric sensors are smart is only important if there is the right connection to the rest of the automation architecture.  Here IO–Link offers a good solution.   However, the acceptance and awareness of IO-Link is still limited.  With technologies like IO-Link, photoelectric sensors are becoming part of the automation hierarchy.

Will Asia Help Suppliers Form Established Economies?
Asia is the fastest growing region in our study.  However, some trends are dampening the impact on sensor suppliers — locally produced machinery is often simple and requires limited, simple, and cheap switches.  Local producers that serve a large portion of the market, especially in China, are forced to focus on high volume, small margin sensors.

Sensor suppliers that focus on direct sales sometimes have difficulty in the Chinese market as the market is primarily served by distributors and thus the companies need to re-think their go to market strategy.  This can also impact their way of doing business because it is solution focused and based on close customer relationships.  These companies benefit from global end user customers that also produce in China, but have also adapted to the new market.

Profiles for the major suppliers for this market are included in this report.  Each profile reviews the company’s business, products, and services as it applies to this market.  Suppliers profiled include Balluff, Banner Engineering, Baumer Electric, Contrinex, Keyence, Leuze, OMRON, Pepperl+Fuchs, Rockwell Automation/Allen Bradley, Schneider Electric, SICK, Sunx, Yamatake.

The big three predictions!

The Big Three Predictions Industrial Automation & Process Control
Key areas of growth will be energy efficiency and sustainability, smart technologies and the influence from BRIC and other emerging economies

Frost & Sullivan released its three big predictions for the industrial automation and process control market. Energy efficiency and sustainability, smart technologies and the influence from BRIC and other emerging economies will be the key topics in 2012 and beyond.

Insight on the three big predictions for 2012 and beyond is available on SlideShare

Based on a survey of several hundred companies conducted in December 2011, this research paper highlights areas of growth. “Energy efficiency, advanced technology and geo-economics will transform the face of industrial automation in the future. Along with sustainability, these factors are set to influence product design, project cost and service capabilities of industrial automation vendors in the next-generation enterprise”, comments Muthukumar Viswanathan, Director for Automation and Process Control at Frost & Sullivan.

The key themes outlined below feature heavily in Frost & Sullivan’s industrial automation and process control research programme for 2012.  A key driver for the research is the work Frost & Sullivan has been conducting around Mega Trends which are driving new and emerging market segments for key industry participants.

Energy efficiency and sustainability

Sustainability, in terms of energy and resource efficiency, will be a key ingredient for the success of the global manufacturing industry. The growing focus on the implementation of energy efficient solutions in both process and discrete industries will also promote sustainable manufacturing. Energy efficiency concerns will dominate business in the electric motors market, with class IE3 energy efficiency – a stricter requirement compared to class IE2 energy efficiency – required in 2015. In addition, wastewater treatment and handling pumps will dominate traditional water pumps across the globe. All in all, the four major spheres of influence that will determine business models in future factories are Integrated Enterprise Ecosystem, Sustainability, Life Cycle Assessment and Eco-Efficiency Analysis.

Smart technologies

Factories of the future will be driven by megatrends such as cloud computing, cyber security and mobile and wireless communication technologies. The need for higher productivity and greater efficiency will drive organisations to implement greater interaction between the factory floor and enterprise across all end-users. This will be achieved also by leveraging on technology to provide automation solutions enabling end-users to gain a competitive edge in the global market. Asset management and flexible manufacturing will also drive factory integration with enterprise, and the will be high potential for automation and customised service solutions in industrial applications.

BRIC and other emerging economies

BRIC and other emerging economies across the globe are likely to sustain high growth in industrial automation markets. The strongest growth is expected in emerging markets, especially in the Middle East, South East Asia, and Eastern Europe. Opportunities connected with the modernisation of old infrastructure also exist in developed regions such as North America and Western Europe. In addition, flexible manufacturing will aid regional customisation by aligning the product portfolio to suit market demands.

Did you meet us last year?


At the end of the year it is customary to look back and see how things were. Statistics is one of the ways we can look back.

2011 was a difficult years for many. Budgets were trimmed (to put it politely!) and many enterprises, especially in Europe and the United States felt the cold wind of reality sweep through places never thought accessible to such things. The phrase “safe as a bank” continued to have a hollow ring. Politics oscillates from stalemate to inactivity to vicissitude to indecision in those countries, while in others, tumult on the streets lead to sudden changes in government.

One of the great changes in what is happening over the last half-decade is the part played by social-media, facebook and twitter especially. The conventional news media organisations have been struggling to keep up. Exclusivity by any one publication has been usurped by the ability of witnesses to publish their own unexpurgated accounts instantaneously. An example is the assassination of Osama Bin Laden unknowingly reported by a local tweeter in Abbottabad (PK) who reported a rare sighting of a helicopter over head and then “A huge window shaking bang!”

Here in Ireland the national television service RTÉ had a programme called “Now that’s what you called News!” which was an “overview of what news we as a nation searched for online throughout 2011 in the privacy of our own homes, on our own laptops, on our own smartphones.” Some of these items are predictable but others are a surprise! (Hopefully people outside of Ireland will be able to view this – please advise us if not!) Few organisations have really understood this great shift, still less how it impacts on their own enterprises or lives or politics.

If we feel a bit hopeless or plunged in the gloom maybe we could do worse than read Seth Godin’s last contribution in 2011 and view 2012 as the Chance of a lifetime!.

The automation sector would appear to have been spared the worst excesses of this trauma by maintaing a steady as she goes approach. In past recessions this sector seemed to track by some months what happens in other sectors. This time thus far this has not appear to have happened. But what will happen in 2012. Will the developing parts of the world, China, India, South America take up the slack in other areas?

And us?
Here at Read-out the years has been a bit like the famous curates egg – good in parts! The print edition continued to be published and distributed to around 2000 automation professionals in Ireland. From a circulation of about 500 when it started life in the 1970s as a house magazine for Industrial Instruments Ltd it progressed to being an independent publication in 1989 with a circulation around 800 and quickly grew to over 2000 which we reckon is as close to the size of the market as can be achieved. (We reckoned at the time that if an equivalent magazine had the same penitration in their respective markets it would achieve 240,000 in Britain or 800,000 in the US).

Average blog visits since Aug 2009

We started on the web in 1995 with a very simple one page information digest but this soon developed into the large site now which is visited by over 17,500 people per month. More recently in mid 2009 we started blogging and there we have been able to track a growth through the months from a small base of 60 visits to today’s figure of over 3000 per month. The bulk of visitors come from North America (of which US comprised over 80%) then by Europe (29% UK and 12% Germany) followed closely by Asia (India 42%) and then South America (Brazil 40%), Africa (Egypt 42%) and then Oceania (Australia 100%). I’m not sure how reliable these figures might be. For instance Australia has 100% of the visits from Ocenaia whereas I know that we did have some visitors from New Zealand.


And what were the blog stories that people found most interesting?

Here we find things that we don’t understand fully. Why are some pages which we find interesting down the list? Why do some old pages continue to hold sway on these lists? We list the leaders here and perhaps you can make it out. Most readers read 1.5 stories per session!

1. Developing a 3D Optical surface profilometer (Jan 2011) – a account of a project using NI’s LabView in Dublin City University.

2. Number two has been a paper which is consistantly in the top of our stats since it was first published. This is Emerson’s Sarah Parker’s paper Radar level measurement best practice (Sept 2010).

3. A paper from Mike O’Brien of Newson Gale is a close third in the views in 2011. This is on Static earthing protection for road tankers (Nov 2010).

4. The next three in the list are close together too. Wireless strain gauge sensors (July 2010) is about a new wireless telemetry system for strain gauge sensors from Applied Measurements.

5. The great story of the past two years has been the long overdue penetration of automation security by Stuxnet and “Son of Stuxnet.” This blog was inspired by a tweet from Byres Security which decried the security commitment of one of the giants of automation as “abominable!” Abominable security commitment! (Aug 2011) also includes links to the many blogs and articles we have been able to find on this important topic.

6. Stuxnet – not from a bored schoolboy prankster! (Sep 2010) is Nick Denbow’s take on this malware first published in his Industrial Automation Insider.

7.Growth in World SCADA market is the subject of another story on a report from Frost and Sullivan (Dec 2010).

8. Our story on developments in Invensys in July 2009, Taking Invensys seriously! continues to draw readers – though things have moved on since then!

9. Level detection of foaming media is the problem addressed in this August 2010 contribution from Baumer.

10. Tree Safety (Feb 2011) discussed a method of testing the roots of trees alongside highways using a sensor adapted from helicopter technology by Sensor Technology.

The fact that Security and Stuxnet feature in this list is also reflected in the most popular searches include “USB Stick” and “Security” as the most popular by far of all searches on the site. Most of the referrals to the site come from search engines but also a large number of our facebook page and (perhaps surprisingly) Control Global.

Sometimes people are so interested in a product or news story that they click forward to the page of the company or service. Again these may surprise with Frost & Sullivan heading the list with Applied Measurements close behind with Long Watch’s fascinating video of an oil leak and Wikapedia on Stuxnet! All in all however most automation professionals seem to be happy enough to read these items and go on to other stuff.

One of the things that is perhaps a little disappointing is the number of comments or interactions from all these visitors. We welcome these but not those which seek to advertise products or seek followers (“I found your blog fascinating and will visit it regularly from now on!”). If a visitor wishes to have their product or service or appointments or other company or technology news mentioned the best way to see it on-line here is by sending an email to

Like most statistics these are interesting and some of them are meaningful and we will use them to try to improve the service we provide for our visitors. As we finished writing this we came across a critque of a book by Katie Paine called “Measure what matters!” Paul Gillum’s critque is called, “Sensible Talk About Social Media Measurement.” Hopefully I can learn from it and maybe you dear reader might too! His final word is “Paine’s practical and time-tested advice is a welcome relief to a Klout-obsessed world that seems more taken with fans and followers than with business results.”

We thank those who have visited us during 2011. We particularly thank those who provided us with material or who generously supported us with advertising and sponsored our journeys to those events we attended.