System Integrator of the Year: Polytron
Charlie Jager called Polytron’s selection as a 2015 System Integrator of the Year award "like winning the Super Bowl." In winning the top award in the Mid-Sized SI category, Jager spoke with CFE Media to discuss why communication is at the at the core of business success for Polytron:
CFE Media: What makes for a successful collaboration between an integrator and a customer? How do you get the most out of your customers, and how can they get the most out of you?
Jager: There are many elements to a successful collaboration. In my experience, the single most important element is human alignment. Throughout the project it must be a continuing focus on human alignment and human alignment must start at the beginning of the project. The endeavors of engineering and implementing technology do not naturally incorporate human alignment. For that reason, Polytron’s execution model specifically highlights human alignment.
System integration projects generally bring together technologies and individuals who have never worked together before. So, our approach to successful collaboration is founded on team alignment of all of the key stakeholders of the project. These are individuals of the customer, the technology provider, and the system integration team.
Once aligned at the human element, we add communication, communication, communication. We integrate communication is a key to the success of any project and it drives everything we do. Our organizational structure fosters open communication and our experience has demonstrated repeatedly that consistent, open, and proactive communication leads to effective collaboration and better results. Our project execution model is designed to ensure that the Vision for project success, the team and technical alignment starts at the beginning of the project and continues throughout the collaborative process to the end.
CFE: Beyond their technical skill, what makes a good integrator? When you build a team of integrators, what are you looking for beyond technical skills?
Jager: For Polytron, our engineers must have a true passion for system integration, whether it is batch processing, packaging, line automation and controls, manufacturing intelligence, training or the other myriad of solutions that fall under the realm of system integration.
It is the passion that keeps us going and drives us to learn more and create and innovate for the optimal solutions for our customers. The passion fuels the physical stamina which is needed to dig deeper for a project challenge and the physical fortitude to meet some of the tight project schedules.
We look for good people skills necessary for our collaborative project execution methodology. Communication skills are key to meaningful discussions with the customer under all situations to maintain the open dialogue for good project delivery. It is part of the customer service formula which points to our long-term relationships with our customers and technology providers. It also is necessary when working with original equipment manufacturers for specific requirements for the project.
Additionally, a good integrator needs to exude the pleasantness of a patient salesman. Once the project begins and especially through start up, the integrator interacts closely with the customer’s staff. There are times when she/he must calm the customer or explain a change order and it seems to happen when project pressures are at their highest. These types of interactions require skills that are rarely addressed in an engineering curriculum, nor are they innate within engineering personality traits.
CFE: How do you stay ahead of emerging technology in the industry, and how do you bring that technology to your customers?
Jager: I am proud to say that our engineers are some of the best in the industry. It is important that we are in a state of continuous learning. It is a passion and builds on the strong technical foundation we have. We have built long-standing well-established relationships with all of the major technology providers for hardware and software.
To stay abreast of the latest technology advances, our engineers frequently attend in-house learning sessions and webinars presented by our technology providers, conferences and tradeshows, to hear best practices and see new technology in action. Our engineers also participate in the technology providers’ online and traditional educational programs for comprehensive and validated training in their individual fields of expertise.
It is this approach to technology that ensures we are able to align the most up-to-date and appropriate solution for our customer’s needs on every project. These provider relationships often present the opportunity for Polytron to be among the early adopters of the latest technology, which means we are able to offer our customers the appropriate innovative technology to support their goals and objectives.
View the System Integrator Hall of Fame to learn about past winners.
Also view the Global System Integrator Database to learn more about the winners and other system integrator companies.
See what the other System Integrator of the Year winners had to say about their industry and manufacturing as a whole below.
Click here to watch a video interview conducted by CFE Media with Jager.