Industrial automation system integration is not simple work. Connecting a diverse set of applications and systems in a way that addresses the speed, profitability, safety and growing sustainability requirements is a complex undertaking. That’s why many companies turn to a partner network encompassing system integrators who have the expertise and resources to support industrial automation challenges.
Top industrial automation challenges
In our always-on, connected world, businesses face numerous challenges in modernizing their operations while striving to gain a competitive advantage. We are seeing our customers faced with the following:
- Management of remote workforces
- Scarcity of trained on-site engineers and technicians
- Enormous marketplace pressures to digitize operations
- Maintaining worker safety in a rapidly changing operational environment
- Mapping new innovations into current workflows
- Enabling monitoring systems to access quality data
- Reducing energy waste
Let’s not forget how the industrial sustainability challenge has altered methods for deploying digitized solutions. Over recent years, regulators, shareholders, and end customers have insisted that businesses rapidly decarbonize their operations to confront the deepening CO2 emissions crisis. We need to continue to keep this at the forefront of our strategies.
Choosing a qualified industrial automation system integrator
Achieving success in the digital transformation of industrial automation environments requires experienced technical personnel. In much the same an owner of a high-end luxury car would consult a specialist mechanic rather than a jack-of-all-trades who performs occasional work out of his personal garage to maintain his high-precision vehicle, organizations need to turn to expert systems integration firms that understand the intricacies of automation and software in highly connected, mixed hardware environments.
But how do manufacturers know which systems integrators are best suited to helping them achieve their project goals? The key is identifying a system integration firm with the experience and core characteristics needed to minimize risk and accelerate ROI.
Some characteristics to consider include the following:
1. Ability to provide a turnkey approach that saves time and money
A capable systems integrator should be able to go beyond simply installing an automation system. Coordination between engineers and the systems integrator is needed to properly link the project’s electrical, piping, mechanical, and civil engineering aspects. Look for an integrator with extensive experience deploying systems under strict time constraints. Such a partner can assume turnkey responsibility for the automation solution, avoiding time delays, saving money, and easing the project management burden.
2. A high degree of technical and engineering competence
As the complexity of digitized automation systems deployments within industries increases, so does the technical expertise required to instrument and automate systems. Organizations should evaluate solution provider competency levels by checking on the credentials of the engineers and by asking for references of jobs completed. Knowing how a solution provider performs and provides support when issues and errors occur also matters.
3. Close partnership with a reputable global technology manufacturer
When it comes to complex industrial automation systems integration projects, no one company can do it alone. Long-term partnerships based on the shared priorities of innovation, excellence, and efficiency must be established to achieve lasting success.
Schneider Electric, through the Alliance System Integrator program, works with regional system integration firms to build the highest levels of competencies across various technology and segment domains. We view our Alliance Partners and system integrator community as a trusted and critical network of professionals to support the growing demands of customers. Schneider Electric invests in training our partners to work not only at the intelligent device level but to also grow expertise in edge control and apps and analytics layers of the total solution. As a result, these partners offer innovative knowledge that makes projects much easier to manage, faster to execute, and less costly to implement.
For customers who engage Alliance Partners on projects, two top-of-mind areas include:
- Open, non-proprietary platforms like Schneider Electric EcoStruxureTM Automation Expert now enable new business models. Universal automation is the world of plug-and-produce automation software components that solve specific business challenges (think of it as the dawn of an industrial “app store”). Such tools integrate operations and fundamental processes into seamless business, automation, and control systems that orchestrate supply chains, business systems, procedures, production, logistics, and customer service. Innovative industrial automation technologies create step-change improvements in operations, resulting in faster delivery, lower cost, and faster cycle times for delivering products to consumers.
- Modern IT asset management and enterprise service management techniques and platforms can be applied to OT software development. By cross-training OT systems integrators in IT disciplines such as development operations and data analysis, they become familiar with standard tool sets and can communicate using the same language. With the help of certified Alliance Partner systems integrators, forward-looking manufacturing firms are bridging the divide between the Information technology (IT) systems and the operational technology (OT) systems in their plants, warehouses, and labs.
Ready to tap into the Alliance Partner network for your next system integration project? Find an Alliance Partner near you. If you are a system integrator, learn more about how to become an Alliance Partner.