Global integration trends, with a focus on best practices

System integrators globally need good business practices as much as they need good technical abilities if they are to serve their clients well, said Bob Lowe from the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). Improving efficiency, security and safety of industrial assets, such as waste treatment plants, manufacturing plants and process industries, requires the skill set that industrial system integration companies possess, thereby resulting in a healthy industry, CSIA said.
By Bob Lowe, Executive Director, Control System Integrators Association December 17, 2014

Robert Lowe is executive director of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA), a not-for-profit, global trade association that seeks to advance the industry of control system integration. Courtesy: CSIAThe industry of systems integration in industrial applications is healthy now and will continue to be for several years — this being the observation of Alan Beaulieu of the Institute for Trend Research as well as the CSIA/J.P. Morgan semi-annual survey of the industrial system integration industry.

It stands to reason that improving efficiency, security and safety of industrial assets, such as waste treatment plants, manufacturing plants and process industries, requires the skill set that industrial system integration companies possess, thereby resulting in a healthy industry. Many industry clients are reducing their technical staffs and focusing on what they do best, further advancing the need for system integrators.

The vision of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) is that industries everywhere have access to low-risk, safe and successful applications of automation technology. Our mission is to advance the system integration industry by helping our integrator members be more professional, provide a forum for them to network and train, have CSIA certification become an industry standard and increase our global presence.

System integrators globally need good business practices as much as they need good technical abilities if they are to serve their clients well. Failed projects typically result from poor management so CSIA is filling this need in the industry. To a minor degree, business practices vary by culture, but generally, business practices are the same on all continents. However, the CSIA Best Practices and Benchmarks Manual, available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, is constantly being revised to serve all of our member companies, now in 27 countries.

How does an industry client or product supplier identify a professionally run system integration company? Simply by selecting and working with CSIA certified integrators. CSIA certified integrators have passed a stringent business audit based on the most critical criteria in the Best Practices and Benchmarks manual. With certified members on all six continents, Nigeria, Africa being the most recent addition, the global growth of CSIA is apparent. Although our focus is Latin America and Europe, CSIA is adding members everywhere and helping them to be the best integrator they can be.

There is significant evidence of our global commitment. Within a few months, a certification auditor will be located in Asia Pacific to more efficiently serve members in that area of the world. Our new staff person in Mexico, Marcela Vallejo, is organizing training events in conjunction with several of our Partner members, (product suppliers). Our new European Advisory Committee provides guidance into the European integrator market, such as participation in the SPS IPC Drives show in Germany in November. However, we never lose focus on integrators, product suppliers and industry clients in North America.

We can’t go it alone so we developed partnerships with trade associations that are of a technical nature to collaborate on training and other initiatives. Examples are MESA, A3, OPC Foundation, PLCopen, ISA and PI North America.

The highlight of our year is our annual executive conference, to be held in Washington, D.C ., in 2015. About 600 integrator and partner member personnel will attend to build relationships and attend 20+ business education sessions. There are no similar conferences in the world.

– Robert Lowe is executive director of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA), a not-for-profit, global trade association that seeks to advance the industry of control system integration.

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