2014 ARC Industry Forum: Optimize system integration project benefits
At the ARC Forum 2014 in Orlando, Fla., Tom Braydich, former director of electrical engineering at the Campbell Soup Co., delivered a presentation entitled "Lessons learned in the system integrator-end user customer relationship. Braydich offered system integration (SI) lessons that he learned while managing integration projects at Campbell Soup for more than 25 years. Campbell Soup includes Pepperidge Farm, V8, Swanson, Pace, Prego, Kelsen Group, and Bolthouse Farms. In the presentation, he covered SI madness, how to avoid pitfalls, success principles, and benefits.
Here are some key notes from Braydich’s presentation:
- "System integrators are risk averse," he said. "No one wants to fail." Integrators must achieve big success at small costs.
- Integrators must balance between paying too much and too little. When integrators pay too little, they run the risk of losing everything, costing more in the long run.
- A well-run project provides means of continued self improvements.
To avoid pitfalls, firms should:
- Provide a written scope of work for each bidder,
- Demand a detailed proposal from each bidder,
- Don’t default to the lowest bidder,
- Don’t start without a plan for success,
- Ensure project managers are assigned.
To make an integration project successful, firms should remember:
- Not all integration companies are created equal. The integrator should become a trusted advisor. CSIA certification ensures that business principles are in place, so integrators can focus only on the technologies.
- Collaboration is needed.
- Define needs and wants. Remember the scope of work. Requirements and return on investment should be clear. The team must agree on standards, requirements, and specifications.
- Process and technology expertise must be shared. Educate the system integrator on processes and workflows.
- Perform a factory acceptance test (FAT). Simulate as much of the process as practical to ensure it works. Involve plant operators and maintenance personnel to get their input. Corrections are better in the integrator’s office than in the field.
- Match size to project needs. A small manufacturer might do better with a smaller integrator. Large firms should look for an integrator with adequate experience and repute for their size.
– Mark T. Hoske and Jordan M. Schultz, content managers, CFE Media, Control Engineering, and Plant Engineering, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.