2021 - 2022

Getting the Most from Your Automation System Integrator

Oak Brook, IL—There's always more to do than time to do it. When deadlines cannot bend, the answer is to bring in help. An automation system integrator is often the answer when there aren't enough staffers to execute an automation project in-house, or when in-house engineers lack the required technological expertise, according to Vance VanDoren, Ph.D., P.E., Control Engineering's consulting editor, covering system integration.

Rather than forego the project, a better idea is to hire an automation system integrator to implement it. "System integrator" applies to a wide variety of specialists, including integrators of computer systems, automation and controls, information systems, manufacturing systems, robotics, and other applications. Automation system integrators provide time, talent, and technology and can be independent contractors, divisions of larger engineering and construction firms, divisions of an automation vendor, or divisions of an automation distributor. System integrators are especially adept at connecting a factory's manufacturing equipment to the automation system's disparate computing and communications devices and programming them all to perform required control and information-gathering chores.

Most system integrators consist of small companies, with more than half earning less than $5 million in annual revenues, according to the Control Engineering 2004 Automation Integrator Guide. Engineering specialties most often cited by automation system integrators are:

  • 63% Programmable logic controllers (PLCs);
  • 58% Process control engineering;
  • 57% Instrumentation and data acquisition;
  • 55% Human-machine interfaces; and
  • 53% Systems engineering.
The guide adds that system integrators serve in more than 75 industries. Those most often cited by system integrators are:

  • 51% Industrial automation, instrumentation, and control;
  • 51% Food and beverage;
  • 48% Continuous and batch processing;
  • 45% Chemicals and petrochemicals; and
  • 44% Material handling, including robotics.
The Control Engineering 2004 Automation Integrator Guide is online at www.controleng.com/integrators, and offers search criteria of industries served, experience, areas served, corporate affiliations, engineering specialties, professional affiliations, annual revenue, and company name.

For more on these topics, register and view Control Engineering's new webcast, "Outsourced Integration," which is designed to help you get the most out of your system integrator relationship. Brought to you by the Wonderware Business Unit of Invensys, the Control and Information System Integrator Association (CSIA), and GE Fanuc, the first broadcast will be at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2003, followed by a live question-and-answer session. The webcast will be archived and accessible until Feb. 3 for viewers who can't attend the initial broadcast, but still want to tune it in later.

VanDoren will moderate the webcast's panel of experts, and will draw from his own experience as a system integrator. He will offer advice on how to choose and work with a system integrator, especially how to use the various search engines available to locate automation system integrators with specific qualifications.

VanDoren's guests will include Norm O'Leary, executive director of the Control and Information System Integrator Association (CSIA), Harry Merkin, director of commercial programs at GE Fanuc Automation, and Jay Jeffreys, P.E., system integrator program manager for the Wonderware and ArchestrA business units of Invensys.

O'Leary will offer his views on what constitutes a bona fide system integrator, focusing on CSIA's audit program through which a successful system integrator can become "registered." He will also be sharing tips from the CSIA's "Guide for Selecting & Working with a Control System Integrator."

Merkin will explain how GE Fanuc's Solution Provider program is helping system integrators provide more powerful, flexible, and versatile solutions to their customers, from supporting large-scale integration projects to finding a single solution that meets their needs most effectively. Jeffreys will discuss key measures for a successful system integration initiative from the perspective of end-users; system integration firms and their individual expert developers; software suppliers and their distribution channel affiliates. He will provide illustrations from Wonderware's own system integrator channel processes and explain how they relate to a truly integrated manufacturing enterprise.

© 2004 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.

© 2001-2020 VanDoren Industries, Inc. For additional assistance, email editor@integrator.guide, or call (765) 296-7600 to talk to a live editor.