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How To Get What You Want From A Control System Integrator

Mon, 12/17/2012 - 10:58am
Tim Foster, vice-president, Specialty Ingredients Marketing, Inc.

This real-life project involves the former Green Planet Farms, Sioux City, Iowa and ESE, Inc., of Marshfield, Wis., a CSIA Certified control system integrator.

What is the result of a successful project? Think about that for a minute. In the world of control system integration, a project is considered a success if three things happen: the system performs as intended, the time schedule is met and the cost meets the value of the project budget. Allow me to share the example of how this happened with the Green Planet Farms project.

Green Planet Farms began just like many projects—it was a blank sheet, proof of concept for a new manufacturing facility. It involved new technology, new process techniques and a state of the art controls system. The GPF project started from a clean sheet design approach, involving a team of highly motivated and experienced professionals and one of them— from the outset—was ESE, Inc., of Marshfield, Wisconsin, a CSIA Certified control system integrator.

How did Green Planet Farms choose a control system integrator?

We looked at a number of factors to start; the first being the integrator company’s past experience and reputation in the industry. Then, we did what most businesses do. We checked references. We thought about what we needed for this relationship to develop.  This would involve first getting to know each other and knowing that nothing but the best effort would be put forth here. It would also mean scoping out and developing this project together. We needed an integrator that would look at the capabilities of the system and go beyond the surface by getting to know the players and their goals. Finally, this relationship would require team-building and figuring out who would play the best for each side.

How did the project and relationship work?

We accomplished our goals and here is why. It was clear –from the beginning of the design through implementation—that the objectives would be met. This came about because of the team’s confidence in each other’s problem-solving skills and the experience gained through working together. As the CSIA Certified integrator, ESE, Inc., made sure their team was part of the design process at the start, which eliminated the possibility that the project would not meet the goals at the end.

Another critical factor was maintaining accountability. From the outset, we knew that someone had to be the document caretaker so that the status of the control portion of the project and the assignments that needed to be completed were kept in one location with one contact. Every component, every manufacturer, the status of orders and who was responsible were all on a timeline which was easily accessible to team members. This made it simple to track the job and watch the progress. It was a great service provided by ESE, Inc., our CSIA Certified control system integrator.

What about the future? What happens from here?

When you look back at where we started, it was a blank sheet, but it was always evident that we maintained our focus on gaining expert advice and professionals for our project. We had a goal, invested in the relationship with a CSIA Certified control system integrator and we got there.

When the next project comes about, getting in on the “low bid” requires knowing the spec and helping to write it. This will ensure that everyone is bidding on the same parameter. From the industry customer side, make sure to push for value and service from the start of the project.  Remember that downtime and production efficiency cost money so in your initial research, look for and choose a CSIA Certified integrator that will be the challenge-solving partner who brings the most value to your team.

The Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) is a global non-profit professional association for control system integration companies to advance system integration for the success of members and their clients. CSIA has more than 400 members in 27 countries, providing a range of services in dozens of industries. To learn more, log on to www.controlsys.org.

ESE Inc. has been at the forefront of designing and commissioning innovative plant automation systems for food and beverage applications for more than 30 years. For more information, visit us on the web at www.ese1.com.

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