Technical and maintenance staffs are shrinking at manufacturing operations in North America and around the world. To help run their operations efficiently, more industry clients are turning to members of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA).
“More CSIA integrator companies are required by their customers to commit to service and support contracts. These businesses no longer have enough qualified people on staff to do the job,” says Jeff Miller, chair of CSIA’s Best Practices Committee. “CSIA believes the need is critical enough to create an integrator best practice around it.”
CSIA added a section on service and support to the “Best Practices and Benchmarks Manual” when it was revised in 2012. CSIA updates the manual every few years to keep pace with the changing environment of control system integration. The manual provides integrators with industry proven best practices in areas of general management, human resources, marketing, financial management, project management, system development lifecycle, supporting activities, and quality assurance.
Miller says large manufacturers and process plants are driving this service and support trend. Many engineers are reaching retirement age and are not being replaced, often because engineers with specialized technical expertise can’t be found in a tight labor market, so companies are looking for CSIA integrators because fewer staff members have the skills to respond to high-tech issues.
“A plant engineer is often called on to troubleshoot mechanical and electrical issues in the plant, but they seldom write code for the overall plant control system and struggle at times to dig into it to determine the problem,” maintains Miller. “Every day, CSIA members provide the marketplace with control system expertise. We stay on top of new technology and know how to use it.”
CSIA’s “Best Practices and Benchmarks Manual” offers a defined process for delivering service and support that is different from integrator-supported projects. It guides CSIA members on how to best work with clients in this role. For more information on CSIA’s Best Practices or how to “Find an Integrator,” visit www.controlsys.org.