Hargrove Controls + Automation is System Integrator of the Year, 2022
Hargrove Controls + Automation is the 2022 System Integrator of the Year for the Mid-Sized Integrator Category. Karen Griffin, vice president of Hargrove Controls + Automation, discussed how her company approaches leadership in an interview with CFE Media.
When it comes to cybersecurity, it takes leadership to guide manufacturers away from threats. Leadership also enables system integrators like Hargrove Controls + Automation to engage with its clients to help bring about their success as well as grow its own team. Karen Griffin, vice president of Hargrove Controls + Automation, discussed how her company approaches leadership in an interview with CFE Media.
CFE Media: Congratulations on receiving the 2022 System Integrator of the Year award. Talk about what this kind of recognition means to you and your team.
Karen Griffin: The Hargrove team is honored and humbled to be recognized for this prestigious award. The Control Engineering/Plant Engineering System Integrator of the Year title is a direct reflection of our team’s dedication as well as our clients’ engagement and commitment to partner with us as we strive for excellence in the automation industry. Our team takes great pride in getting to know our clients, understanding their day-to-day challenges and working together to create solutions that truly impact our clients’ organizations positively. External recognition like this really validates our everyday efforts, and we are incredibly grateful.
CFE Media: Talk about information technology (IT)/operational technology (OT) convergence. Are end-users “getting it?” What is Hargrove doing to help ease IT/OT convergence anxieties?
Griffin: Most of our end users do “get it.” They understand the benefits gained by convergence as well as the challenges associated with accomplishing this integration. Our experience is our clients are looking towards us, their solutions providers, to help them develop a strategy for implementation. We work together to lay the groundwork today for the evolving technology of tomorrow.
CFE Media: What is the attitude of your customers toward implementing effective cybersecurity measures? Are they receptive?
Griffin: We believe our customers understand cybersecurity threats are real. However, the implementation of protective measures can involve an extensive amount of work and has become daunting for many clients. Our clients are looking to us to break down the process into achievable milestones, making timelines and progress more tangible. By streamlining processes, we can remove duplication of efforts to get our clients where they need to be. There is a balance between carrying out the work that is necessary and maintaining consistent protection.
CFE Media: What types of projects are your clients asking for? What are their goals and expectations?
Griffin: We get a wide variety of requests from our clients. We work on everything from greenfield projects to system migrations, legacy equipment upgrades, turnkey solutions, process safety for existing plant assets, cybersecurity/OT and digitalization for the future, including Industry 4.0. We are also seeing an uptick in asset lifecycle requests as they are looking to automation to improve plant reliability and reduce maintenance.
CFE Media: Hargrove Controls + Automation faces the same workforce development challenges as others in the manufacturing sector. Talk about your programs to meet this challenge and talk about the young people entering this industry. What are their expectations, and how can system integrators have greater success in attracting and retaining these workers?
Griffin: One of the things we have invested in from the inception of Hargrove Controls + Automation is our co-op program. We are strong believers in working with students at the collegiate level who are learning real, on-the-job skills. We have gained a lot of value from this program, and we have also gained a lot of talent on our technical staff, building strong teammates who emerge as leaders.
Company culture is key to attracting and retaining teammates. Working with teammates on an individual level to help with development and career progression is one aspect. Another is flexibility. Many individuals entering the workforce are looking for flexibility to manage life’s competing priorities. Our leadership team embraces this flexibility, and we emphasize virtual teaming across our offices, which makes our culture attractive to emerging talent. We work to balance in-office engagement and connectivity with virtual teaming, which often results in a more productive, engaged workforce.
There’s not one secret recipe, but if you can build a team that is dedicated to your company’s culture and to one another, you are setting yourself and your clients up for success.
CFE Media: Talk briefly about a recent customer success. What were some of the things you learned in success with the customer?
Griffin: During the successful project design and execution with a major chemical company needing to add a new process unit in an existing 24/7 operating plant, a few key insights into the available software tools and applications were realized.
Firstly, while the system did not warrant the use of a full-fledged batch system due to the addition of the limited number of units, a process of “small batch management” was introduced using a combination of built-in features of the software. This allowed us to provide a fit-for-purpose and lower cost solution that conformed to the requirements and operated as desired by our client. This also is now an option to be used on future projects with similar size and application.
Secondly, to maintain the efficiency of our projects, effective utilization of bulk import tools is imperative. Exercising discipline on maintaining the design aspects that feed bulk import tools allows these tools to be implemented throughout the development of the project, reducing efforts with manual changes throughout the project lifecycle. With repeatable and supportable tools, we can further bulk additions for future optimizations and expansions while recognizing time savings in re-engineering. This allows the project to remain on schedule and within budget.