Four reasons to be fluent in multiple platforms
Like languages, being able to work with multiple platforms in the automation field can open the mind and give the engineer the ability to solve more problems and be a better, more rounded engineer. Other reasons for having this ability include:
1. It gives the customer platform options
When the engineer or integrator presents the customer with options, it gives them a sense of control and more confidence in what they are purchasing. It also signals to the customer that the engineer is unbiased and will use the appropriate platform for the application. In the case where a customer has already committed to devices that need to be integrated into the whole control system, having experience with multiple platforms makes it easier to weigh options within those third-party devices. Having more than one platform choice also gives the customer the option to choose which platform is best to fit the devices on their network.
This builds trust with the customer and lets them know that the engineer or integrator is there to deliver a product that meets their needs. Credibility is established with trust. Being versatile shows the customer that their integrator will be easy to work with the products that best fit their specific needs, which is a good indicator that they will come back for repeat business.
2. It shows there is more than one way to complete a project or task
Engineers have options for almost everything they do when completing a project or task, meaning that one thing can be done many different ways. Knowing multiple platforms creates an engineers’ best practice, which in turn is then presented on other platforms. This helps the engineer find what is best for them and what is best for the customer. Different platforms use different types of coding. Some platforms are function block based, while others are ladder logic based. Some offer other types of programming, but a customer may be specific on using only function block. An engineer can expand upon the knowledge from one platform and use the concepts of that platform on a different platform to help fit the customer’s needs.
3. It broadens an engineer’s skill set
Reading and figuring out code on different platforms forces an engineer to think differently and provides a different approach to a familiar process. Doing things differently allows the engineer to see the process from a different perspective and can help them understand why certain choices are made and how they can be implemented. Filling these gaps in knowledge enables the engineer to take best practices learned on one platform and implement them on others.
4. It makes an engineer valuable for integrating systems
Knowing multiple platforms makes the engineer an expert when integrating known platforms. If there is a technology change for either platform or a migration, being fluent in both platforms makes an engineer who knows both system the perfect candidate for the job. This will help ensure a smooth migration for the customer’s final product.
This post was written by Dan Woodrow. Dan is a senior engineer at Maverick Technologies, a leading automation solutions provider offering industrial automation, strategic manufacturing, and enterprise integration services for the process industries. Maverick delivers expertise and consulting in a wide variety of areas including industrial automation controls, distributed control systems, manufacturing execution systems, operational strategy, business process optimization, and more.
Maverick Technologies is a CSIA member as of 2/7/2017.