Kruse Blog
Qualified Integrator Meeting
By: Jay Wise   Published: April 2, 2016

System Integrator is a term for a skilled contractor with a specialty in automation and often manufacturing IT.  Kruse Integration is a system integrator.  System integrators, sometimes referred to as control engineers, are found in most major cities and municipalities where industrial facilities are abundant.  System integrators can range from a one-man show or a large to mid-sized staff of control engineers with an education in electrical engineering or computer science.  The main focus of most system integrators is factory controls design and programming using PLCs (programmable logic controllers).

When selecting a system integrator for your project…..

Ask…What other projects have they done in the dredging industry?

Most system integrators have a staff and project background in typical industries as pharmaceutical, food & beverage, bottling, energy, chemical, automotive and steel. The dredging industry is very specific and under supported for automation.  Most system integrators haven’t seen or stepped foot on a dredge.  Though it is possible to bring your background from these high tech industries into the dredging industry as we have at Kruse Integration, there is rarely a motive since the dredging learning curve is years and system integrators won’t go through the hassle without knowing the long term payback.

If your project involves data collection and reporting, ask… What other work has been performed creating database table, collecting data parameters and developing concise reports such as production, OEE, downtime and efficiency reports.  Make sure they are extremely familiar with the proposed database (such as MSSQL or Oracle).  Make certain they don’t use old, outdated software.

Always avoid any system integrator that uses proprietary hardware or software and make sure YOU own the code, licenses, and documentation when the project is complete.  After all, you are paying for it.  Always seek a system integrator who uses standard accepted off-the-shelf, readily available hardware and software so it can be supported down the road by anyone.

Verify good engineering practices by perusing examples of their project code, graphical development, and electrical drawings.

Contact their current and past customers in your industry to validate their on-time delivery, continued support and ease of relationship.  Make certain the system integrator is familiar with and suggests how they will remotely support your project following completion.  Ask them about hardware AND code warranty.  Most all projects are custom and code written for the PLC can have bugs or careless programming that won’t show up for weeks or months.  Make sure it will be corrected immediately and for free.

And finally, if you hire a system integrator for $65/hr, be prepared to pay another qualified integrator $140/hr to clean up the mess.

Author: Jay Wise
Jay Wise has been in the automation field since 1980. As a partner at Kruse Integration since 1994, he has developed a niche in the dredging industry for controls and information technology. He is a member of WEDA and NSSGA and often gives technical paper presentations as well as magazine article editorials. Kruse Integration is a turn-key automation and information technology system integrator with experience in dredging, chemical, automotive, pharmaceutical, food / beverage, aggregate, steel, cement, security and alternative energy industries.

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