With the amount of options on the market, choosing the right automation systems integrator for your project can prove to be a challenge. However, there are several steps you can follow to help you find the best fit for your company.
The first and most important step is to know the scope of your project before you begin searching for an outside company. Talk to internal project managers or ask for a consultation from an external systems integrator to accurately determine a project’s estimated length and cost.
Secondly, allow for early evaluation of your project before you begin. Look for integrators that provide pre-automation services, like prototype development and/or detailed specifications. Eclipse offers many of these options, including but not limited to, Proof of Principle (POP), project planning, lean manufacturing and risk assessments. This early evaluation will enable you to determine any initial issues and formulate effective and cost-efficient next steps.
After your project scope and initial needs are evaluated, you can begin to search for an integrator to complete your project. A large number of companies can be found through an internet search, or by asking other companies within your industry who they have used in the past.
Once you have a possible integrator in mind, you should ask some quality questions to ensure they are capable of handling your project. Note that a good systems integrator will not ignore or dismiss any inquiries, and will let you know immediately if there are any foreseeable issues. Some important questions should include:
• How long have you been in the business?
• Do you have licensed engineers on staff?
• What employee turnover do you experience?
• What is your operational capacity?
These few initial questions will determine if the company is qualified, however it will not tell if they are a good fit for your project. Also consider asking questions about their corporate culture and values to see if they share the same qualities as you.
While you are asking these questions, look out for how well the integrator gets to know your company and project scope. A good integrator shouldn’t be a separate contractor, but rather an extension of your team. As an example, Eclipse works closely with its clients in the project planning and execution stages, providing early supplier connectivity and a dedicated single point of contact in order to create a seamless team atmosphere. With comprehensive project monitoring and detailed documentation control, this type of constant communication ensures that you are involved in every step of your project.
Next is to verify a potential systems integrator and to research their capabilities by contacting some of their recent clients and asking for certifications. This allows you to gage their management style, project quality, and how solutions performed after installation. Clients will give you an unbiased view regarding how the project progressed, including any issues or additional benefits. Furthermore, industry certifications are an easy step to validate a company’s high levels of proficiency, compliance and expertise. A well-rounded systems integrator should have numerous certifications for both skilled technicians and overall quality procedures.
Another step is to find out which companies are responsible for the subsystems in your process, along with overall system integrators. Certain subsystems require their own integrators due to their complexity or exclusive partnerships, forcing you to look into specific businesses. It’s best to look for companies that provide complete in-house capabilities in order to bypass this step. A vendor-neutral systems integrator will allow you to have proprietary and disparate systems in order to provide sustainable and scalable solutions for the long-term.
Lastly, depending on your project, decide if you need to see the integrators facility or not. Though most modern systems can be integrated in a remote location, some may need to be designed in-house. Check that the company has experienced employees and the proper equipment to get your project done both on-time and on-budget.
Eclipse understands the need to find that perfect systems integrator. Through a combination of in-house industry experience and know-how, we strive to provide our clients with added value by offering completely customized, innovative cost-efficient sustainable solutions.