PCS Study Value and Participation Grow with Client and Partner Feedback


In 2016, a large worldwide refining and chemicals company approached Solomon to evaluate the process control systems at 17 of their sites. The operator requested a detailed analysis using Solomon’s benchmarking methodology to encompass automation personnel (process control systems, process control engineers, real-time optimizations (RTOs), advanced process controls (APCs), Programable Logic Controllers (PLCs), instrumentation, distributed controls system (DCS), online analyzers, safety instrumented systems, historians, etc.). Their goal was to improve their automation and process control performance and compare to peers. Solomon suggested a Worldwide Process Control Systems Performance Analysis (PCS Study). Due to the value the study delivered, the operator encouraged other companies to join the study along with them so there would be a deeper and more revealing analysis.

The client’s involvement led Solomon to adapt the PCS Study with enhancements based on participant feedback, delivering even more insight and analysis to guide decision-making and improve profitability.

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Participation resulted in not only benefits from a detailed automation staffing analysis for the client, but also benefits from a detailed analysis on predictive vs reported hours, RTOs, APCs, regulatory control, alarm management, and onstream analyzers.

In 2019, the study was shaped again by another worldwide refiner; gross margin analysis, high-level best practices, and recommendations have now been added to the study.

Study Participant Used Study Data in Innovative Ways

Over the years, additional refiners participated in the PCS Study and found valuable insight using the Study data and results. One operator developed their own complexity factors and analysis for their refineries with the data. Further, the client used Solomon’s Best Practices and gross margin analysis at a higher level to crosscheck their refiners and see where they were performing in best practices in alarm management, regulatory control, and advanced process control.

Client Feedback Continues to Grow the Study

Multiple clients, suppliers, and vendors have provided feedback on the PCS Study each year. The feedback has steadily incorporated into the study to deliver even greater insight for participants, delivering third party actionable insight not available anywhere else.


Recent study enhancements include:

  • Expanded peer group analysis
  • Total cost of DCS ownership
  • Calculated DCS age vs average cost
  • Enhanced DCS analysis
  • Hardware/software faults/yr
  • Hours of downtime caused
  • PCS download changes/yr
  • In-depth cybersecurity analysis
  • Enhanced digitalization analysis
  • Autonomous operations, unstaffed sites
  • Additional detailed analysis of console operators including inputs and outputs (I/Os)
  • Improved gross margin based off # of APCs and # inferred at site
  • High-level best practices for sites

2021 Study Results Revealed Significant Savings & Opportunities


2021 Process Control Systems Study Examples of Results

The 2021 PCS Study results can provide the following benefits and value to participating clients:

  • Reduction in DCS costs
  • Reduction in DCS downtimes
  • Optimization of digitalization and cybersecurity at the site, reduced incidents
  • Implementation of best practices within the organization close 10% of gaps
  • Staffing optimization efficiencies range from 0.6M USD up to 1.3M USD/yr
  • Improved operational availability based on enhanced automation, 0.5%
  • Improved operational availability based on improved alarm management
  • Improved process control systems with RTO, APC, and regulatory control
  • Gross margin benefit for each site ranging from
    • 75M USD/yr up to 1.5M USD/yr for smaller sites
    • 5M USD/yr up to 3M USD/yr for larger sites


Over 5 years later, the PCS Study continues to grow from client, vendor, and supplier feedback. Many study enhancements have been added based on direct operator feedback to deliver even more insight. Contact us to learn more about the PCS Study.

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