Manufacture This

RPO solutions poised for strong growth

Dedham, MA  October 4, 2001  According to ARC Advisory Group's newly revised Real-Time Process Optimization and Training Worldwide Outlook study, Real-time Process Optimization and Training (RPO) solutions will experience strong growth, topping $1.1 billion by the year 2005, up from $540 million in 2000.

The overall RPO marketplace is comprised of three different types of applications: On-line Optimization, Advanced Process Control, and Training Simulation & Control System Validation. According to ARC Senior Analyst Tom Fiske, the study's author, "While all three applications will experience healthy growth, On-line Optimization will achieve the most because of the drive among manufacturers to operate their plants at peak efficiency. On-line Optimization continuously monitors the state of the process and, through model reference, predicts an optimum operation path." 

Advanced Process Control (APC), the second application type making up RPO, includes model-based software to direct the process operation. In this area, the most popular technology is multivariable predictive control (MPC). Training Simulation and Control System Validation are real-time dynamic simulators designed to train process operators and verify control system functionality.

Over the past couple of years, organizations have enthusiastically embraced the Internet as a means of conducting business. Unfortunately, the Internet is placing tremendous pressure on manufacturing operations to deliver products in an increasingly demanding environment from consumers who expect customized products, rapid delivery, and real-time visibility into order status. Accordingly, process manufacturers are shifting their attention back to their manufacturing processes and adopting collaborative manufacturing strategies so that they can respond appropriately and profitably. 

Collaborative manufacturing is a priority because it focuses on new ways of leveraging the Internet and technologies to better compete. It is concerned with connecting the plant floor to external systems, and knitting together internal manufacturing and business processes with external business processes. Sharing information throughout the enterprise and with partners is more important than ever and demands a level of integration rarely seen before. This creates an environment for a manufacturer to compete as a highly flexible and responsive operation that can meet the expectations of customers and value network partners. 

RPO's model centric approach is an important strategic development for collaborative manufacturing that facilitates model reuse between various simulation, optimization, and control applications throughout the entire lifecycle of a plant or process. Deploying truly integrated design, operation, control, and management technologies based on accurate and consistent models is essential to predict how a plant will respond under rapidly changing requirements to make a product on time, to specification, safely, and profitably. The ability to share models between, and data from, a project's conceptual phase to operations and control will continue to spur growth. The need for further collaboration is pushing suppliers to develop seamless integration between RPO solutions with plant and enterprise systems to aid in planning, scheduling, and supply chain management. 

Further information on this study can be found at: