Why Partnership with a System Integrator is Critical

April 7, 2014
Forging a long-term partnership with a system integrator, beyond the immediate scope of work, keeps complex control systems functioning at peak performance.

The time has come for an upgrade, greenfield project, expansion or additional engineering support for your organization. What are you looking for when you hire a system integrator? Does an ongoing trusted relationship factor into your process? Or do you hire strictly for the job at hand? If you ignore the relationship factor, you may be missing out on optimal performance.

To illustrate this point, consider the world of medicine. The heart is obviously a critical organ not only to our daily survival, but also to our quality of life. When the heart is not performing to its designed optimal performance, the patient turns to an expert in the field of cardiology to fix the problem. Let’s say that problem is a blockage that needs to be removed. Sure there is a scope of work that needs to be done, but typically to return someone to optimal health there is much more involved. The patient and the doctor form a relationship that is ongoing and are partnered together to achieve the best outcome.

Beyond the immediate scope of work on clearing the blockage, there are also diagnostic tests to see how the heart is functioning; there is counseling on diet and exercise that should be followed; and prescriptions for medication that will assist the heart to function properly. If there were no ongoing relationship and only the blockage cleared, the likelihood of the best possible outcome would be in doubt. More than likely, the patient will end up back on the operating table.

Control systems are the heart of your processes. They keep the equipment operating in rhythm to produce the end product. Yet, the typical course of action from many integrators when these systems require attention involves some limited scope of work with little to no ongoing relationship. The principle of how the heart works is simple, but how the heart ties into your facility is very complex and can vary from day to day depending on operations and how other related systems are functioning.

The interconnection of control systems with the processes they control is very complex and its performance can be affected by seen and unseen variables. Just as a doctor who gets to know her patient’s history, tendencies and daily routine through spending time together can better treat the patient’s condition, so can the integrator better serve the client through an ongoing relationship. This allows the integrator to truly learn their client’s needs—needs that even the client at times may not be aware of including:

  • Review of logs and alarming;

  • Analysis of process performance;

  • Reviews of graphic displays and other performance variables with operators;

  • Creation of manuals to assist in control of the process; and

  • Building confidence in local personnel concerning control systems performance

Avid Solutions believes in building relationships through a process called EVO (Exploring Value Opportunities). Our goal with each project is to help uncover hidden opportunities and establish ongoing partnerships. This allows us to not only cover the immediate need in the scope of work, but to also help our clients understand how to most effectively leverage their control system for the best performance possible. Don’t trust the “heart” of your business to just any integrator; seek one who sees the value of ongoing partnerships to maximize the value of your control system.  

Chad Williamson and Steven Hazelton are automation systems integrators at Avid Solutions Inc., a Certified member of the Control System Integrators Association.

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