Domain Expertise and Attention to Detail

This post intends to deal with the actual work as well as the emotions that go into a project that is set up for success.  Up front preparation and attention to detail are keys to that success yet that exercise requires great discipline to complete.  Having a Control System Integrator (CSI) that has domain expertise is a great asset in working through the details for your application. Just exactly what is “Domain Expertise”?  By our definition we mean someone who has had prior, in-depth experience doing the same sort of thing that the project at hand entails. As a customer you might think: The thing is – without domain expertise you don’t really know what questions to even ask let alone recognize reasonable answers.  Having an experienced CSI quiz you about your company’s habits as it relates to the project will uncover more detail than you would at first think. We feel that it is the CSI’s function to understand not only the technology being applied, but also the nature of how you operate your business which is sometimes called the ‘activity model’.  You have …

Measuring the Value of a Control System Integrator

Let’s talk about medicine to build an analogy.  I imagine that all of us have had some exposure to that topic.  The nagging question seems to always be whether the help you need requires the Mayo Clinic, or if it is something that any local physician can handle.  I remember some counseling that I received years ago from an oncologist.  He said, “No matter who you talk to about treatment their specialty will be their preferred and recommended approach, but whatever you decide to do remember that the outcome is operator dependent.”   If you are the one who is going to live with the results of the work to be performed,  you may think about who you would select a little differently than someone who might be making the decision in your behalf.  When we think of ‘specialized’ medicine, we often think of top surgeons or solving medical mysteries. Within a control system project, there might be specialized expertise that is required as well.  Project size alone can have its own complexity, or schedules can introduce challenges that a limited number of project teams …

Buying Decisions for ISA-88 Batching Solutions

PAC:  Programmable Automation ControllerPhase:  The lowest level of procedural element in the procedural control model.  It provides an interface to basic control.Physical Model:  A representation within the ISA-88 product of the physical assets that comprise the batching system.Procedural Model:  A representation within the ISA-88 product that describes a set of activities to beperformed by the Physical model to produce a product or type of product.Unit:  A collection of associated control modules and/or equipment modules that can carry out one or more major processing activities. This paper intends to address the decision making around formal ISA-88 batching products such as Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk® Batch. Going forward we will simply use “products” as the expression for formal products that embrace the full ISA-88 standard. There are elements of the ISA-88 standard that have migrated into well- structured applications that don’t use a formal product. Such structure can prove to be helpful and has even gained acceptance outside of the batching industry. This paper, however, intends to help guide the thought process through the evaluation of whether or not you actually need and would benefit from such formal products– and in many cases you would indeed benefit, but not …