System integration: Best practices and technologies to help

Cover story: System integrators are able to provide expert advice and bring value from a financial as well as from an operations standpoint to many projects. Advice from industry experts follows.


System integrators have a major impact on manufacturing in how projects are coordinated, executed, and maintained over a long span of time. Their ability to work in different fields and provide advice on a variety of challenges can lead to major cost-saving benefits for plant owners and managers. Their impact goes beyond dollars and sense, though. They can also improve a company's safety by making additions and improvements to existing infrastructure. 

The advent of Industrie 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will play a large role for system integrators in the future. While there will be plenty of hands-on work in future projects, many of their roles will be transferred to the cloud or to a mobile device, which will give them added versatility in the field.

- Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media, Control Engineering,

How system integrators, plant owners should collaborate on an automation project

A plant owner and an automation system integrator need to agree on the direction for a long-term project to ensure success. In addition, the plant owner and system integrator need to as understand and respect each other's priorities and expectations on the project according to Tim Gellner, senior consultant, Maverick Technologies.

Financial benefits of combining automation and safety projects

As more advanced technologies continue to hit the marketplace, especially technologies designed to provide a safer and more productive work environment, the importance of cross functional collaboration between environmental, health, and safety (EH&S) departments becomes critical for survival, said Jeff Winter, the director of safety practice at Grantek Systems Integration.

Industrial networking technologies add value to existing infrastructure

The landscape of process control systems has completely changed in the last five years and regardless of what these developments are called-the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industrie 4.0, the digital factory, or the connected enterprise-these developments are here to stay, according to Alex Marcy, owner and president of Corso Systems. Marcy added that when implemented correctly, these new technologies give the companies who use them a deeper understanding of every aspect of their world.

Contextual mobility for monitoring and control

Edward Nugent, chief operating officer (COO) of PcVue Inc., said mobility solutions designed to monitor, diagnose, maintain, and control buildings and energy management systems (EMS) are now being modified by advances in contextual mobility and have many benefits for mobile devices and operations. He added that the responsibilities of mobile workers are defined by their organizational roles and may vary by the zone of control, which can cause complications in the field. Nugent said a system that is proactively and securely presenting the right contextual information, to the right person, at the right location, and at the right time is needed.

Two reminders and six steps to market to engineers

Rebecca Geier, CEO and co-founder of Trew Marketing, offers two reminders and six steps to engineering and scientific business leaders who don't know where to invest in technology marketing to get the greatest return. Often, these people have been unable to follow through on because of all the hats they're wearing, or they have unrealistic expectations about return on investment (ROI) and timeframe to achieve results. Geier's advice is designed to help engineers with marketing by treating it as part of an integrated product lifecycle.


ONLINE extra

Each of the five articles cited and linked above contains more information and many with more supporting images than would fit in the April Control Engineering print/digital edition cover story. Click on the link for each for more information.


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