Why Your Business Needs a Control System Integrator

Ask 10 people for a reasonably short, concise definition of control system integration and you're likely to get 10 different answers. Control system integrators (CSIs) are quite diverse, fitting description only in broad terms: The intelligent incorporation of control system products, software, and services.


Ask 10 people for a reasonably short, concise definition of control system integration and you're likely to get 10 different answers. Control system integrators (CSIs) are quite diverse, fitting description only in broad terms: The intelligent incorporation of control system products, software, and services. This diversity is born of the variety of projects experienced CSIs provide. CSIs can respond quickly and adapt solutions and schedules to the client needs. These characteristics are what enable CSIs to provide value.

One way to categorize CSIs is by orientation to product categories or end-user applications (although some fit both niches). A CSI oriented to product categories might have extensive expertise with a number of hardware and software brands from various vendors, freeing them to recommend the right hardware/software combination without bias to specific vendors.

A CSI oriented to end-user applications has experience that can be broader and more recent than engineers the end-user has on staff. CSIs that focus on fewer, select applications, often within an industry group of clients, establish a broader and deeper understanding of those applications and are able to implement the most suitable control system technology. They know what new technology and products have been successfully applied, and those that have not.

Partnering for value

While independent control system integrators don't share ownership with automation vendors, they commonly have working business relationships with one or more such vendors. Some of these partnerships are coordinated programs that provide the CSI with added training, support, and marketing assistance that strengthens the CSI's competencies and abilities. Automation vendors can then help match a project with an appropriately trained and experienced CSI .

The independent CSI can provide a lower cost solution than using in-house engineering resources, architectural and engineering firms, or OEMs. Comparatively low overheads, often make CSI's less expensive than in-house staff when the client considers cost of office space, labor, support equipment, and other overlooked costs. The client has the additional flexibility of using his internal resources for only those parts of the project justified by cost, availability, and schedule. A&E firms, which often work on a "time and material" basis do not have the same incentive to be innovative or cost effective. System integration is also usually not the primary focus of A&E firms and OEMs.

How do you find good CSIs? You are already looking at one of the best resources—The Automation Integrator Guide, is by far the most comprehensive directory of CSIs available. The Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) is also a great resource for locating CSIs by specialty, size, experience, and geography. CSIA's staff and website ( www.controlsys.org ) provide this service without charge. Look for the CSIA logo for CSIA members listed in this guide.h

For more information, visit www.controleng.com/info , or visit CSIA Headquarters' website: www.controlsys.org

On behalf of the automation industry, Control Engineering acknowledges the positive contributions of Mr. Brandon, who died in November.

Control System Intregrators:

Respond quickly;

Can offer specific expertise; and

Can save money in the long run.

Source: Control Engineering with Information from CSIA

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