Design system integration projects for success
See tips and tricks on automation and control system integration project management: Advice from the 2012 System Integrator of the Year winners. See related videos.
How an automation system integration project is designed and managed determines if it meets deadlines, budget, goals, expectations, and overall project success. Representatives for the 2012 System Integrator of the Year Award winners provide advice.
Vance VanDoren, Control Engineering and Plant Engineering contributing content specialist and editor of the Automation Integrator Guide, spoke with Dave Bishop, president and CEO, Matrix Technologies; Rick Pierro, president, Superior Controls; and Lee Juckett, co-managing director, Mangan Inc. Tips and tricks in the video discussion (below) include the following:
- Break down a control system integration project into manageable steps.
- Appraise the project with the client, looking at all the pros and cons of doing the project.
- Select automation hardware and software that might be involved to get a rough estimate of cost, plus or minus 50%.
- Define scope and specifications, getting within plus or minus 30%.
- Execute the project. At this point, some integrators will estimate cost within 10%; others may provide a firm amount, discussing if small changes are included or the cost of larger changes. This includes consulting and programming, and extends to factory acceptance test (FAT) and commissioning.
- Closeout (sometime rolled into execution) includes training, manuals, training, and cleaning up; this last 10% of the time can take considerably more than 10% of the budget.
Video production by Peter Welander, CFE Media, for Control Engineering and Plant Engineering.
In approaching the project, get team members from all areas involved, including operations; look at methodology and scope and definitions; and ensure there’s appropriate industry expertise.
Stick to the process, ensuring the project scope gets affirmed and solidified, which can ruffle feathers early but ensures satisfaction later.
Involve operators and business leaders from the beginning and ensure a set of engineers is engaged from start to finish, rather than tossing things over the fence from one department or project stage to another.
Project managers need to have great organizational, communications, and collaboration skills, to get clear understanding and sign-offs at each step along the way.
When a change is identified, see if it’s a clarification within project scope—and if not, weigh the benefits of the change with costs in schedule and money.
Work as team to ensure success of the project.
Article compiled from video by Mark T. Hoske, CFE Media, for Control Engineering and Plant Engineering.
Click on photos of each system integrator to see a short video clip with highlights of company expertise.
View other articles and videos about the 2012 System Integrator of the Year award winners:
- 2012 System Integrator of the Year Award winners
- 2012 System Integrator of the Year winner: Superior Controls Inc.
- 2012 System Integrator of the Year winner: Matrix Technologies Inc.
- 2012 System Integrator of the Year winner: Mangan Inc.
- System Integrator Hall of Fame