Integrators sharpen skills with CSIA, manufacturer affiliations

System integrators are sharpening their skills and gaining resources for clients by affiliating with the Control and Information System Integrators Association (CSIA) and joining manufacturer-based programs for integrators, according to panelists on Control Engineering’s Dec. 3 Webcast, "Outsourced Integration."

By Control Engineering Staff December 4, 2003

Time for viewing the archived Webcast has been extended until March 3. Click here for more information or to view the Webcast .

System integrators are sharpening their skills and gaining resources for clients by affiliating with the Control and Information System Integrators Association (CSIA) and joining manufacturer-based programs for integrators, according to panelists on Control Engineering’s Dec. 3 Webcast, “Outsourced Integration.” Archived and available for viewing until Feb. 3, 2004, the Webcast’s sponsors are GE Fanuc, the Wonderware business unit of Invensys, and CSIA.

Control Engineering consulting editor Vance VanDoren, Ph.D., P.E., moderated the event, drawing on his own experience as a system integrator. He offered advice on choosing and working with a system integrator, and covered how to use online search engines to locate system integrators with specific qualifications. VanDoren adds that some of the corporate affiliation programs for integrators are offered by:

Majority of system integrators, according to data gathered for the Control Engineering 2004 Automation Integrator Guide, have annual revenue of $5 million or less.

These and other resources for systems integrators and their clients were compiled in the Control Engineering 2004 Automation System Integrator Guide (registration is required).

Experts on the Webcast’s panel included Norm O’Leary, CSIA’s executive director; Harry Merkin, GE Fanuc Automation’s commercial programs director; and Jay Jeffreys, P.E., system integrator program manager for the Wonderware and ArchestrA business units of Invensys.

O’Leary explained what constitutes a bona fide system integrator, focusing on the CSIA’s audit program, through which integrators can become registered. He shared tips from the CSIA’s “Guide for Selecting & Working with a Control System Integrator.” CSIA has 55 registered members as of end of November 2003, and 45 members in the queue; re-auditing is required for registered members every three years. O’Leary suggests that the registration process helps system integrators improve:

  • General management: Purpose, strategic objectives, goals, organizational structure, facilities, equipment and computer system management;

  • Project management: Project planning, methodologies, design standards, project quality, documentation, testing and implementation;

  • Quality management: Leadership, teamwork, effective communication, and improvements;

  • Human resources and professional development: Administration, recruiting, employee development, retention;

  • Financial Management: Measurements, financial planning, billing, credit, purchasing, expenses, security, project financial reporting;

  • Business Development: Organization, practices, proposals, negotiating, contracting; and

  • Technical Management: Hardware and software proficiency, current and contemporary, personnel training.

To show how manufacturers also help integrators enhance their skills, Merkin explained how GE Fanuc’s Solution Provider program gives integrators more powerful, flexible and versatile solutions. The program supports large-scale integration projects and also finds single solutions that effectively meet clients’ individual needs. Merkin says end-users should seek the following attributes in an automation system integrator:

  • Close relationships between automation vendors and system integrators;

  • Specialization that matches the project;

  • A proven methodology to ensure quality;

  • Associated suppliers that can back the project with global resources;

  • Total project management capabilities;

  • Industry-specific experience;

  • Range of products and services; and

  • Appropriate financial resources.

Similarly, Jeffreys reported on Wonderware and ArchestrA’s key measures of a successful system integration initiative from the perspective of end-users; system integration firms and their expert developers; and software suppliers and their distribution channel affiliates. Jeffreys outlined 13 benefits and 11 requirements for three levels of system integrators. Requirements for system integrators include distributor sponsorship; multiple technology installations (including at least one FactorySuite A2 installation per year at the highest level); and certification for developers. He also explained Wonderware’s system integrator channel processes, and related them to an integrated manufacturing enterprise using the Purdue Reference Model for Computer Integrated Manufacturing.

Click here to read ” How to get the most from your system integrator relationship .”

Click here for more information or to view the Webcast .

—Mark Hoske, Editor-in-Chief, Control Engineering, MHoske@cfemedia.com