You say you want a revolution?

System integration is going through many changes and the 2016 Global System Integrator Report is designed to do several things to keep pace with the change.
By Bob Vavra, CFE Media December 19, 2016

Bob Vavra, content manager, Plant Engineering. Courtesy: CFE MediaThe vision of the year we’ve just collectively endured are big things and big emotions—upsets and victories, tears and cheers, moments we’ll remember forever and momentous events that changed our history. It was, in so many ways, a revolutionary year.

It is worth looking a little below that loud, raucous and nasty surface. Look at the work that goes on each day. Look at the achievements of our citizens and the challenges faced and met by our workers every day. It doesn’t make the nightly news, nor is it likely to anytime soon. So much, it seems, has changed. So much more is the same as it was, and so much more is better than it was when we started.

The music of revolution comes in many different forms. Some prefer John Lennon’s loud and strong voice in the Beatles’ song "Revolution," and others might favor newly crowned Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan’s folksier observation that "The times, they are a changin’."

That’s why the 2016 Global System Integrator Report is designed to do several things to keep pace with the change:

It keeps score: We count down the 2016 System Integrator Giants. While there are the individual achievements, there also is the collective work of all of these integrators that should be examined. We also have an extensive amount of research on the Giants, and we share that in the 2016 SI Giants coverage.

It celebrates achievement: CFE Media once again recognizes the System Integrator of the Year, honoring Panacea Technologies, Interstates, and Integro Technologies. From an impressive field of nominees, these three companies were selected for their overall achievements in the field.

It follows the leaders: We have two further perspectives on the state of the system integration business from two of the most important associations. Jose Rivera of the Control System Integrator Association (CSIA) and Bob Doyle of the Robotic Industrials Association (RIA) offer their unique perspectives of the state of manufacturing and the contributions they and their members make to that effort. We appreciate their insight, and we think you’ll find it valuable.

It picks your brain: We again asked our integrator community to offer their views on where we are and where we’re headed, with a particular emphasis on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). As we talk about revolutions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, embodied by the emergence of IIoT technologies and strategies, is going to continue to grow. As you read in our comments from System Integrator Giants, there is not unanimity on this topic, but there is a clear sense that this is where we are headed.

It celebrates the supplier community: The Global System Integrator Report highlights the major suppliers in the industry and, through them, the integrators themselves. The partnership between device manufacturers and the integrators helps create unique solutions to solve unique manufacturing challenges. The achievements each year that make manufacturing better are a function of that partnership.

I get a sense that we’re just scratching the surface of what integrators could be doing for manufacturers. It will require a commitment to change-to create an internal plant revolution, if you will. Manufacturing’s infrastructure needs an infusion of new technology and the path to that technology is best realized through the system integrator. That may not be a revolutionary idea, but it is worth considering.

Bob Vavra, content manager, CFE Media, bvavra@cfemedia.com.