Can someone tell me the main differences between the following solutions:
ABB - 800xA
Siemens - PCS7
Emerson - DeltaV
Honeywell - Experion
Experience? Service? memory etc.
This sounds like a senior project or even a thesis. It would take many pages.
All the systems are aimed at serving the same markets. There are differences in price and local support as well, that play a role in the choices we make.
On the internet, you will get mainly the sales & marketing perspective. See if you can find your local rep and ask each for a reference - maybe even someone in your area - that you can visit and hopefully interview. Even then, the impressions you get will be affected by the implementation. A batch pharma plant has very different requirements
than a petroleum refinery, for example, and each application will highlight different strengths and weaknesses of a given system. Sometimes a system is mis-applied and the supplier is unjustly held in low regard by the end user.
If you are in a society where consumers buy automobiles, this effort has many similarities. If you make the wrong choice you can be stuck with it
for a long time.
Another approach would be to see if the local reps will talk to you and do their own comparison; little doubt the virtues of their particular solution will be seen as distinctive. Then you try to sort out the reality from the hype. We had one supplier - none of the ones you mention - that compared their solution to their competitor's product, neglecting to mention the basis of the study was their competitor's offering from 4 years ago.
Doing this sort of evaluation is part of what earns engineers money in the real world. Buying a system can be - and usually is - a big commitment. We work hard at it and / or pay our consultants big $$ to do it for us. The evaluations we do take into account the price quoted for a given application, so I would be surprised if anyone can just hand you a spreadsheet they did for their project, especially a relatively recent one. Maybe your professor knows someone at a local firm who will let you look at a "bid tab" (tabulation) from a job prior to making a choice; at least you will get an idea of the kinds of things that are considered.
This is a thesis, and I've been in contact with the vendors. I have been studying online information, but can't find any big differences.
A DCS must be purchased in the context of a long-term management commitment. Planning in advance for such a purchase will ensure that answers are more readily available when problems occur. Some of the factors to be considered
in such long-term purchases are:
(1) System effectiveness
(2) Technical performance
(5) Support effectiveness
(10) Software configuration
(12) Software enhancement
So, you may wish to prepare a matrix of all above criteria and try to get the relevant information of all commercially available DCS and fill in the matrix, thereafter, either normal ranking/rating method or a multicriteria approach may be employed to get the desired results.
I hope that above information would be of any utility for you.
I think the reason you're not seeing any big differences is your perspective. If I asked you the difference between a Hyundai, Nissan, Mazda, Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Citron, Saab, BMW and Mercedes, then pointed out that all of them have a steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals, and a fill pipe on either the driver's or passenger's side you can point out that my view is too high level to appreciate the real differences.
The glossy sales literature isn't going to get you into the details needed to make a real comparison. And even if you could start with a blank slate and get a detached view of all their strengths and weaknesses, that may not translate into an advantage in the real world. For example, you can just search around this group a little and find a lot of people who love/despise Rockwell software. But a plant with a room full of Siemens spare parts and 25 Siemens processors on the manufacturing floor isn't likely to see Allen Bradley as a cost effective or logical choice even if I can "prove" that the AB has a lower cost of ownership in an isolated analysis. Context isn't everything, but it sure is a lot.
And I might add that the most important differences are things you might not find out until well after you have installed a site. That's what makes comparing these almost impossible, you have to know things that you can't find out up front. And sales materials and information can be safely disregarded. You'll find that in this industry there are very few people who know enough about more than one system to really compare them. That's why they are high on what they know. Because of what I do, I know a little about a lot of systems and that often gives me an interesting perspective. But with big systems even that doesn't help.
I work on a MBA Master Thesis about DCS Selection. See site http://www.DCSSELECT.EU. Up to now I have input from 24 countries and will publish the first part in October 2007.
Just what some other people say. It is depending on project type, current installation, Business needs.
I work on a list about all the items. This will still take month to compile. After that you have to put the DCS vendors on this data.