Current users of temperature and power control systems indicate a move toward systems with built-in diagnostics and predictive maintenance capabilities, according to a survey by Chromalox Inc., Pittsburgh.

Users responding to the heat-and-control survey of a range of process manufacturing industries indicate they plan to integrate digital control systems to help them manage their process or application information. Currently, just 5 percent of those surveyed have temperature control system with these capabilities. However, 75 percent say they expect to have these functions in two years, representing a strong demand for more intelligent temperature control systems. The anticipated capabilities include remote access from personal computers.

Nearly 30 percent of those surveyed already have some form of remote-equipment monitoring technology, and another 20 percent expect to add it this year. Three-fourths of respondents say they expect to have remote control systems in place within two years, which is a 50 percent increase from Chromalox's 2004 survey. While wireless technology is being used in only 17 percent of the manufacturing facilities surveyed, that number is expected to double in two years.

When asked about their biggest job challenges this year, 35 percent of respondents said budget constraints, followed closely by 33 percent who claimed increased-productivity goals. While 20 percent expect a smaller budget in 2005, compared to 27 percent last year, 45 percent will have more to spend. Staffing levels are expected to remain flat.

Slightly more than three-fourths of end-users anticipate production volumes to increase in 2005, with 28 percent forecasting a significant jump. Production increases are being driven by an increased demand for products (48 percent) and an expanded product line (28 percent).

To accommodate the growth in productivity while managing budgets conservatively, 55 percent of respondents say their companies will install improved production technology this year. Close to half will invest in supply chain improvements and lean manufacturing techniques. Software integration problems continue to be the No. 1 problem managers have when installing new technology in facility, according to 45 percent of participants. Respondents also cited insufficient budget (45 percent), insufficient time (40 percent) and hardware integration issues (40 percent) when turning to new technology, indicating no improvement over last year.

For more information on the survey, which mailed to 6,000 users and had a 2.5 percent response rate, contact Chromalox at (800) 443-2640 or