2012 System Integrator of the Year Award Winners

Control Engineering proudly presents its 2012 System Integrators of the Year.

By Vance VanDoren, PhD, PE December 21, 2011

Plant managers faced with the prospect of automating their facilities can get help from product vendors, machine builders, system integrators, control consultants, or a variety of contract engineering firms that specialize in specific aspects of industrial automation and control projects.  These engineering service providers go by various titles  and share two things in common: 

  1. All can design and implement at least some portion of the computerized control systems required for their clients’ industrial machinery, manufacturing lines, and automated production facilities.
  2. All are qualified to compete for System Integrator of the Year honors.

A wide range of engineering firms entered this year’s competition, and three stood out as the best in their respective annual revenue categories: Superior Controls, Inc. (up to $10 million), Matrix Technologies Inc. ($10 to $30 million), and Mangan Inc. (over $30 million).  These three system integrators best demonstrated their value in technical expertise, business skills, and customer satisfaction. 

The judges chose the winners and four finalists based on essays and documentation submitted by each.  Again this year, certification by the Control System Integrator Association (CSIA) figured prominently in the judges’ decisions.  All three winners have demonstrated to the CSIA’s auditors that they have—and use—established procedures that their clients can rely on.

The judges were also impressed by the dedication to customer satisfaction professed by so many of the entrants and demonstrated by their customers’ testimonials.  A desire to finish every job properly as well as profitably was a common theme.  Several of the winners and finalists expressed an interest in keeping their employees happy too.

The finalists

Here’s a summary of the finalists and their respective specialties.  For more about these companies, see their listing in the 2012 Automation Integrator Guide online.

Machine Vision Consulting (at www.machinevc.com) is a machine vision system integrator specializing in consulting, product solutions, custom projects, and training in support of manufacturers and OEMs.

Malisko Engineering provides manufacturing automation and validation services for production facilities in the food/beverage and pharmaceutical/life science markets.

Avanceon, a member of the System Integrator Hall of Fame, develops real-time performance management systems for the process and discrete manufacturing industries.

Wunderlich-Malec is a multidiscipline engineering firm, specializing in electrical and power engineering, control panel fabrication, process control, and EPC (engineering/procurement/construction) services.

The winners

Superior Controls, Inc.

Up to $10 million annual revenue

Superior Controls offers custom automation and IT services primarily to the biotech, food and beverage, specialty chemicals, and energy industries.  The company’s 35 automation and project management professionals, with an average of 19 years’ experience each, specialize in implementing and expanding their clients’ automated manufacturing capacity and efficiency.

Specifically, Superior Controls provides customers with PLC and DCS-based control systems, including control panels, field instruments, and all the required connectivity, plus the project management skills needed to assemble these components into a functioning automation system according to a defined schedule.  The company’s on-site facilities include space for calibration and factory acceptance testing as well as security and fire prevention systems for safeguarding clients’ equipment, documentation, and source code.

Judge Tom Bullock found a lot to like in the documentation that Superior Controls submitted for this competition. “They’re CSIA certified with an extensive set of manuals and procedures.  They have 32 degreed engineers and have taken on many diverse applications.  They are very community and employee-oriented.  They did a complete customer survey in 2010.  They seem especially devoted to quality control and energy management improvements in their applications.”

Judge Mike Workman agreed: “I was especially impressed with the diversity of clients, offerings, and methodology that Superior Controls has developed for different applications.”  Superior Controls was the first CSIA member to have its policies, procedures, and methodologies certified four times, and the company’s five-member validation department ensures that FDA-regulated clients receive all the necessary testing and documentation.

    What one client had to say

    “The Superior Controls team is not only technically skilled, but they have the right work ethic. They will work independently, but they are also willing to ask questions. They are good people, and we have good chemistry together. They have better quality people than most. Whatever screening process they use is working.”

    “In addition to fulfilling all our expectations when we entrusted Superior Controls with this job, their team added value to the project by helping us sort through some difficult process development and design issues. In this regard, Superior Controls’ contribution went beyond the scope of the activities spelled out in their proposals.”

Matrix Technologies Inc.

$10 to $30 million annual revenue

Matrix Technologies is the first two-time winner of System Integrator of the Year honors, having won in the mid-size category in 2008.  The company continues to offer electrical, process, mechanical, civil, and structural engineering services, as well as control system integration, primarily to clients in the food, beverage, oil, gas, and chemical industries.  The company’s engineers are conversant in most control platforms as well as human-machine interfaces, manufacturing execution systems, machine vision, and networking technology.

In recent years, Matrix has expanded into a number of strategically selected new markets, all the while continuing to support its previous clients.  Some 87% of the company’s revenue now comes from repeat business. 

Matrix’s employees are equally loyal.  Over half of them have been with the company for more than five years, and more than 10% have been with the company for 20 of its 30 years.  None were laid off during the recent economic downturn.

As judge Shari Worthington put it, “Matrix Technologies has found a formula for success. CSIA and ISO certification, geographic diversity, and a clear commitment to the success of its customers have led to continued growth, even during global economic upheaval.”

“They have the skill set needed for a successful integration project with over 30 engineers with their Professional Engineer license or Fundamentals of Engineering registration,” added judge Dennis Brandl.  “Customer feedback was important in understanding how they treated their customers and how committed they were to their customers’ success.”  Fully one-third of Matrix’s documentation was devoted to demonstrating its dedication to client satisfaction.

    What one client had to say

    “When we did our first big project with Matrix, we were at the time looking for an engineering partner that could help us grow our business over the upcoming years. It is easy to say that since that time, Matrix has helped us achieve our business goals and has helped us increase in size by almost 70%. Since I started in 1999, our business has doubled in size but has maintained the same number of employees to get to that level. That is in direct relationship to the projects that Matrix has helped us with over the years and is a testament to the quality of work that they produce. When we decided to purchase new cookers for the facility, we estimated the total project cost to be approximately $11.5 M, and the only engineering firm we even talked about helping us with this project was Matrix Technologies.”

Mangan Inc.

Over $30 million annual revenue

Mangan’s original focus was providing control system automation, robotics, and other electrical engineering services to the petrochemical industry.  The company has since expanded into the refining, oil and gas, chemical, renewable energy, and biopharmaceutical industries.

Its team of 237 engineers, technical professionals, and support staff provide specialty engineering services that include design, commissioning, validation, DCS upgrades, PLC programming, safety systems integration, continuous emissions monitoring, data historians, and project and construction management.  The company actively recruits certified project managers to achieve every project’s prescribed goals and to schedule milestones and cost objectives.

Judge Vance VanDoren noted how such a wide variety of technical skills can support an equally diverse range of automation projects. “Mangan’s documentation included success stories involving manufacturing, building systems, refineries, utilities, pipelines, and more, all executed by their biopharmaceuticals division alone.”

“And Mangan doesn’t just hand the client a manual for the completed automation system on their way out the door,” continued VanDoren.  “They design each system such that long-term management and system upgrades can be accomplished by the end user without Mangan’s help.”

Judge Don Roberts added, “I was particularly impressed with the emphasis on the strength of the company’s relationships both with their customers and with their employees. After all, this is a services industry and those relationships are critical.”  Every customer testimonial included in Mangan’s documentation stressed the company’s desire to meet the client’s needs, not just finish the project.

    What one client had to say

    “Our project had no shortage of drama. Central was the replacement and modernization of the local controls, which had every imaginable rotating equipment control component.  Mangan’s solution integrated seven vendor products into one shelter seamlessly. The finished product was on time, was very well arranged, and worked the first time.”

    “The project schedule was aggressive.  The alternative solutions to meet the project objectives were difficult and challenging.  However, with Mangan’s expertise, experience, and responsible attitude and commitment to meet schedule and budget, we were able to achieve our goals.  While the system cutover presented a significant risk to the plant, the planning and execution of these activities exceeded our expectations and helped to attain a successful project.”

The judges

The judges for the Control Engineering 2012 System Integrator of the Year competition were:

  • Paul Barnard – insurance program manager for the CSIA and president of Taylor Gembridge financial advisors
  • Dennis Brandl – president and founder of BR+L Consulting and a Control Engineering columnist focusing on manufacturing IT.
  • Tom Bullock – president of Bull’s Eye Research, an automation industry market research firm.
  • Mark T. Hoske – content manager for Control Engineering

  • Don Roberts – auditor for the CSIA and principal of Exotek, a management-consulting firm focused on the engineering and systems integration industry.
  • Shari Worthington – president of Telesian Technology, a marketing and e-business services firm specializing in the industrial automation market.
  • Vance VanDoren, PhD, PE – contributing content specialist for Control Engineering and editor of the Automation Integrator Guide

  • Peter Welander – content manager for Control Engineering

  • Michael Workman, PhD – professor emeritus of the Industrial Distribution faculty at Texas A&M University

Vance VanDoren, Ph.D., PE, is contributing content specialist for Control Engineering. Reach him at ControlEng(at)msn.com.




See prior winners, in the System Integrator of the Year Hall of Fame: https://www.controleng.com/SIY