Successful automation projects provide increased value by improving operations, safety, or quality; reducing costs; or directly increasing profitability. The investment made to achieve one or more of these goals can be significant, and that investment will only pay off if the project is successful.
Developing an automation system can seem complex and overwhelming when you don’t do it every day. Therefore, it is crucial to seek out a qualified systems integrator to guide you through the process. When starting this search, it is important to perform a comprehensive interview process to ensure your integrator follows the seven practices described below.
1. Using a Proven Methodology – Successful projects abide by a methodology and use an approach that outlines how a project should be executed. The project methodology serves as a roadmap to project success, sets expectations, and provides a structure for teams to follow.
2. Defining Requirements and Specifications – Well-defined requirements and specifications significantly contribute to smooth project execution and a reliable, bug-free final system.
3. Assessing and Managing Risk – All projects come with a level of risk and it is important to identify and plan for as many risks as possible up front.
Using a risk matrix is one method integrators can use to determine the amount of risk associated with a project.
4. Implementing Standardization – Standardization should help reduce the tedious tasks that exist when creating an automation solution, yet not limit the ability of the system to perform as required.
5. Detailed Work Planning – Before diving into an automation project, it is critical for the integrator to identify the various project tasks required to meet the project deliverables along with the amount of time each task will take.
6. Design First, then Build – Today’s automation systems and processes are entirely too complex to blindly take the project requirements and specifications and just begin to build electrical panels, write PLC code, or design HMI/SCADA interfaces.
7. Quality Testing – In general, it’s important to make sure an integrator has a formal approach in place for performing quality testing throughout the development of the system. At Vertech, we take a multi-step approach to ensuring quality that actively involves the client each step of the way.
To experience true automation project success, a plan needs to be in place from day one. As the end user, it is important to spend time before submitting an RFQ to systems integrators to think about what will truly define project success. Then, approach systems integrators with confidence and demand they have a plan in place that includes items such as a project methodology, a WBS, and defined quality testing techniques. And, if the systems integrators you are talking to don’t work this way, come and talk to the experts at Vertech.