Raising the Bar for Control System Integrators

Control System Integration, as a dedicated professional field, was conceived and born back in the 1970s. During its teenage era in the 1980s, there was an identifiable group of companies specializing in providing integration of control systems. With adulthood in the 1990s, it grew in numbers and became firmly established and accepted as a recognized industry market segment.

12/15/2002



Control System Integration, as a dedicated professional field, was conceived and born back in the 1970s. During its teenage era in the 1980s, there was an identifiable group of companies specializing in providing integration of control systems. With adulthood in the 1990s, it grew in numbers and became firmly established and accepted as a recognized industry market segment.

Today it is estimated that over 1,200 established Control System Integrators (CSIs) exist in North America. And if smaller companies who perform some integration work along with the reps and distributors who provide machine control or motion control on small systems are considered, another 1,000-plus names would join the list. For an interesting and informative report on how and why this all came about, where the industry is today, and where it is headed in the future, download ''The Market for Control System Integrators'' from the Control and Information System Integrators Association's (CSIA, www.controlsys.org ).

Control Engineering ONLINE
At www.controleng.com/integrators , narrow your search eight ways, including integrators with professional affiliations, such as CSIA.

It is not only sufficient to say that CSIs are here to stay, but also that they have become an indispensable force with their expertise, capabilities, and ability to fill the voids as companies continue to downsize and elect to outsource their technical needs. The diversity of familiarity, experience, and operational success of control system integrators with the latest automation software and hardware equipment offer clients an appealing variety of solutions beyond the knowledge and capabilities of most in-house engineering staffs.

Choosing the right firm

Given a slate of over 1,000 firms to choose from, how can a company select a CSI firm it can count on to do an excellent job and be available for service, future upgrades, and on-going technical assistance? CSIA believes that they have a simple answer to this dilemma-choosing a CSIA member.

From the outset, the common thread throughout CSIA's activities has been to ''raise the bar'' for the control systems integrator industry. This included the following:

  • Improving business skills of our members;

  • Assisting integration firms of all sizes, engineering specialties, product experience, and industry knowledge to share their collective business wisdom to help control their individual destinies; and,

  • Enhancing professionalism of independent control and information system integrators.

CSIA's ''Best Practices & Benchmarks'' are designed to enable our members to rank themselves against performance standards in six critical areas, which include general management, project management, human resources, quality management, financial management, and business development. In 2001 the CSIA extended this self-grading program, using an independent third-party consulting firm to perform audits of CSIA member firms against selected criteria from the ''Best Practices & Benchmarks'' program. For an integration firm, achieving this Registered Member status demonstrates to clients the CSIA member's business acumen and professional status.

CSIA membership represents more than 10% of the estimated CSIs in North America and is selectively increasing its membership by over 15% a year. Membership requirements have recently been upgraded requiring that all present members become ''Registered Members'' within three years. We are definitely raising the bar.

For more information on CSIA, visit www.controlsys.org
Comments? Contact MHoske@cfemedia.com





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