The boom in the South African chemicals sector is driving the local automation and control solutions (ACS) market. 2006 was a successful year for the ACS industry, as it grew by huge margins and generated high revenues due to the burgeoning South African economy and growth in the chemical sector.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (industrialautomation.frost.com), Automation and Control Solution Market in the South African Chemicals Sector, reveals that the market earned revenues of $18.0 million in 2006 and estimates this to more than double by 2013 to reach $32.9 million.
"Mounting overseas demand for South African chemical products is driving the need to upgrade existing facilities, with an emphasis on cleaner production," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Jeannot Boussougouth. "ACS products are increasingly seen as a means to achieve productivity and efficiency goals."
This is reflected in the strong revenues derived by ACS suppliers from the sector in 2006. Revenues increased at a robust 8.2 per cent as a result of strong retrofit opportunities.
Given the conservatism of the sector, distributed control system (DCS) products are expected to remain the main ACS products used in the South African chemicals sector due to their reliability and comparative ease of programming. Sales in this segment were pegged at $8.7 million (48 per cent of the total ACS revenues) in 2006 and are expected to reach $16.0 million in 2013.
Despite the relative maturity of the DCS segment and growing competition from SCADA systems, DCS products are still expected to witness steady growth, owing to robust retrofit opportunities.
While the above trends augur well for the market, increasing competition and a shortage of skills are placing pressure on ACS providers to deliver new installations on time. Furthermore, the introduction of Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), which encourages job creation, is a significant challenge owing to the general lack of available technical experience.
"These challenges will have varying effects on the ACS industry. ACS providers that manage to transform them into growth opportunities will enjoy significant progress," remarks Boussougouth. "With the limited number of Greenfield projects, favourable growth prospects are expected to be enjoyed by ACS companies with a strong installed base."
With ACS providers primarily interested in consolidating their existing customer base, the current leadership landscape is not likely to change drastically, as each participant is content to derive profits mainly from its current customers.
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