ISA survey: 63% of automation engineering professionals believe industry standards extremely important

July 27, 2020
The International Society of Automation surveyed 290 people in the automation engineering field

The International Society of Automation (ISA) surveyed 290 people in the automation engineering field to discover their thoughts on industry standards. The survey shows that 63% of respondents believe that standards will be “extremely important” in the future.

Conducted in June 2020, the online survey received 290 responses from automation engineering professionals, primarily from the United States, Europe and Canada. Forty-two percent of respondents described themselves as engineers, 21% as consultants, 15% as managers and 8% as executives. The remaining 14% reported as a mix of technicians, operators, salespeople, marketers or other roles. Survey respondents most commonly worked as system integrators (35%), asset owners (30%), or automation providers (22%).

Most survey respondents (77%) said they are ISA members. Forty-one percent of respondents said they have more than 30 years of experience in their field; 26% said they have 20 to 30 years of experience; 21% said they have 10 to 20 years; 12% said they have 10 years or less.

Findings include:

  • An overwhelming majority of survey respondents believe that, in the future, standards will be “extremely important” (63%) or “important” (33%).
  • Most respondents (87%) believe that industry standards make processes and facilities safer.
  • Most respondents (81%) believe that industry standards help companies prove compliance to regulations.
  • Most respondents (67%) believe that industry standards make it easier to train and cross-train people in technical jobs.
  • Most respondents (63%) believe that industry standards make processes and facilities more cyber-secure.

The survey also asked questions specific to ISA standards. Survey takers were asked whether they agreed, disagreed or had a neutral stance on statements regarding characteristics of ISA standards.

  • 89% of survey respondents agreed with the statement, “ISA’s standards are relevant and valuable to multiple industries.” Nine percent were neutral, and 1% disagreed.
  • 85% of survey respondents agreed with the statement, “It’s important for ISA standards to be harmonized and accepted by a global body.” 10% were neutral, and 4% disagreed.
  • 76% of survey respondents agreed with the statement, “ISA’s standards are unbiased and do not favor any single supplier.” Twenty percent were neutral, and 3% disagreed.
  • 72% of survey respondents agreed with the statement, “The importance of standards in general is well-known and understood within my company.” Twenty-one percent were neutral, and 7% disagreed.
  • 68% of survey respondents agreed with the statement, “ISA’s standards development process is open and transparent.” Twenty-nine percent were neutral, and 3% disagreed.

The findings of the ISA survey confirm that automation engineering professionals rely on industry standards. Survey respondents suggested that standards are essential to maintaining excellence in their work. In general, respondents have a positive outlook about standards, and they believe that standards will continue to be just as critical, if not more so, in the future.

“In creating this survey, ISA wanted to demonstrate the value of standards to the automation community,” said Dr. Maurice J. Wilkins, executive advisor at Yokogawa Marketing HQ, ISA Fellow, former vice president of ISA’s Standards and Practices Department, current co-chair of the ISA101 Human-Machine Interfaces Standard Committee, and member of the ISA Executive Board’s Industry Reach & Awareness work group. “We are grateful to the many automation engineering professionals who took the time to tell us how standards are helping them, their employees, and their organizations.”

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