What makes a successful automation project?
What first comes to mind is ‘under budget’, ‘on time’, ‘operators satisfied’, and I am sure a host of others if you think for a few minutes. Achieving these final goals requires establishing realistic initial goals. Project owners have the insight into the process, the equipment and the personnel in place that will be employed to make the product specified. But what about the technologies available, methods of execution, experience of day-to-day tasks on a capital project? Plant engineers have a wide range of responsibilities beyond the occasional projects, and may not have the time for defining the project tasks, methods and skills necessary to put out a respectable RFQ.
With the goal of the best possible solution and depth of functionality for the project, there is no embarrassment or problem in asking for help in pulling all of this together. In fact, this collection of information is paramount in kicking off a good project and starting with a solid foundation of understanding.
So where does a plant engineer turn when they need help in defining scope for an automation project that they can then ask Systems Integrators, Manufacturers and Contractors for solutions against the requirements? Often the logical, best fit for help ends up being with your favorite Systems Integrator. Integrators have all the skills and experience to combine with your team to extract and crystalize a polished scope of work document. This effort of engaging externally often teases and flushes out functionality and needs that may have otherwise been overlooked or not considered.
Upon completion and once you have created your targeted scope document with all the details necessary to start a project, you can then simply put that out for others to bid, with the knowledge that you have gathered the right information from the experts. There will be fewer ambiguities, a higher level of project definition and less time for the owner’s team to redefine and explain details that could have been missed. You will have a high level of certainty that the scope is defined well and that can immediately commence once you select the right delivery organization. Most importantly you will have that solid foundation for a successful project — which is why you are reading this blog in the first place.
Duane Grob is a Principal Engineer at Avanceon, a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). For more information about Avanceon, visit its profile on the CSIA Industrial Automation Exchange.