Here I am, brain the size of a planet…

“I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed,” Marvin said. “Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you down to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction? ‘Cos I don’t.”

The perennial lament of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s most famous paranoid android is a hymn to frustrated ambition, but the chronic underutilisation of smart technology is an all too common feature of life much closer to home.

It’s a bit disappointing to find that after decades of increasing industrial automation, more than half of plant operators report that less than 20% of their control instrumentation is currently equipped with intelligence, such as Hart, Fieldbus or Profibus communications. But what’s more galling still is that even where there is the potential for intelligent control, almost half (43%) of users report that they don’t use it.

The How do you measure up? benchmarking survey from ABB has shown that these companies are missing out on lots of potential benefits that their savvier counterparts are already enjoying.

For instance, over three quarters of operators who are using the built-in intelligence in their instruments say they are improving their instrument maintenance programmes as a result, while 64% are extending the benefits to wider preventative maintenance programmes.

Well over half report that they’re successfully avoiding unplanned shutdowns thanks to early warnings coming in from their field instruments, and the same proportion report that they’re using the extra information coming in to optimise their plant operations. Health and safety and environmental compliance are other key areas that can benefit from a little extra intelligence.

If you fancy seeing how you measure up against the other players in your industry, why not take the quiz yourself? Check it out at It only takes a few minutes…


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