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The Importance of Control System Integrators (Part 1 of 3)

By Walt Boyes

E-Zine February 2014

Selecting a sensor is one of the significant issues in the success of any project. Pick the right sensors, and the project can go well. Pick the wrong sensors, and the project can tank. But the right sensor, connected to a poorly implemented control system, wonít work well either. Getting the control system right is every bit as critical as getting the sensor right.

It is even more important these days, when in both the industrial and municipal environments, there are fewer and fewer resources available inside the company or the agency in which you work. In contrast to the way projects worked even a few years ago, projects of nearly any size and scope are likely to be contracted out. Sometimes the engineering for those projects is contracted out, and sometimes the project is let to a relatively new type of company that specializes in problem solutions: a control system integrator.

Control system integrators are not contractors, they are not distributors, and they are not architectural and engineering (A&E) firms, although they share characteristics of all three. Sometimes a system integrator will subcontract to a contractor. Very often, the control system integrator will provide all of the hardware and software for a project. Quite often, the control system integrator will provide value-added engineering services, such as system design, documentation, installation, performance and acceptance testing, and operator training --- much like an A&E firm.

Because control system integrators are so versatile, municipal agencies and companies are hiring them much more often nowadays to do projects from conception to completion. But, there have not been any accepted standards for how to be a control system integrator. Basically, any representative or distributor or manufacturer or contractor who wanted to be a system integrator simply could start doing the work and become one. There were no licenses required, and no group or agency has taken the responsibility to provide standards or practices for system integration.

This has led to many projects being done badly, or not being completed, by companies posing as control system integrators. These companies often didnít cost the project correctly, or didnít have good methodology or quality control. Many projects needed to be done over to get them done right.

Click here to read Part 2

From Flow Control (August 2002)

ISSN 1538-5280

Spitzer and Boyes, LLC
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