As technical and maintenance staffs shrink at manufacturing operations in North America and around the world, more industry clients are turning to Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) to run their operations more efficiently.
In a recent news release, the increasingly active association said a shortage of qualified technical staff is creating demand for control system integrators. As a result, CSIA has added standards for service and support to “Best Practices and Benchmarks Manual.”
“More CSIA integrator companies are required by their customers to commit to service and support contracts. These businesses no longer have enough qualified people on staff to do the job,” says Jeff Miller, chair of CSIA’s Best Practices Committee. “CSIA believes the need is critical enough to create an integrator best practice around it.”
Founded in 1994, CSIA is a global non-profit professional association for control system integration companies to advance system integration. Through a variety of services, control system integrators use their engineering, technical and business skills to help manufacturers and others automate their industrial equipment and systems. CSIA is headquartered in Madison, WI with more than 400 members in 27 countries.
CSIA added a section on service and support to the “Best Practices and Benchmarks Manual” when it was revised in 2012. CSIA updates the manual every few years to keep pace with the changing environment of control system integration. The manual provides integrators with industry proven best practices in areas of general management, human resources, marketing, financial management, project management, system development lifecycle, supporting activities and quality assurance.
Many engineers are reaching retirement age and are not being replaced — often because engineers with specialized technical expertise can’t be found in a tight labor market — so companies are looking for CSIA integrators because fewer staff members have the skills to respond to high-tech issues.
“A plant engineer is often called on to troubleshoot mechanical and electrical issues in the plant, but they seldom write code for the overall plant control system and struggle at times to dig into it to determine the problem,” maintains Miller. “Every day, CSIA members provide the marketplace with control system expertise. We stay on top of new technology and know how to use it.”
The manual offers a defined process for delivering service and support that is different from integrator-supported projects. It also guides CSIA members on how to best work with clients in this role. For more information on CSIA’s Best Practices or how to “Find an Integrator,” visit the CSIA website, www.controlsys.org.
To learn more about CSIA, P&GJ interviewed Lee Juckett, Executive Vice President with Mangan, Inc., a controls integrator based in Long Beach. CA.
Mangan, Inc. is an automation and engineering services provider for the refining, gas and oil pipelines, renewable energy, chemicals, biopharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries. Its business model is geared toward specialty engineering fields within the industry sectors and services include commissioning, validation, distributed control systems (DCS), SCADA systems, tank farm management, blending/batch control, safety instrumented systems, control software solutions, safety lifecycle management, emissions monitoring and control, data historian, electrical power and distribution, and project and construction management.
In 2006, Mangan was certified by CSIA and is now one of its 91 certified members.
P&GJ: What do control system integrator companies offer the oil and gas and pipeline industries and why is control system integration important?
Juckett: A focus centered on providing the most innovative and cost-efficient solutions for clients’ needs. A “vendor-neutral” approach that puts ourselves in the clients’ shoes so we fully understand their wants and needs and that the solutions we provide meet or exceed all of those requirements.
P&GJ: Compare the state of these industries 10 years ago to now. How has control system integration made an impact?
Juckett: The pipeline industry has seen dramatic changes in operations. Environmental concerns, safety policy, measurement and control, show the need for change was certainly there 10 to 15 years ago. Those needs — coupled with several unfortunate accidents that occurred in the pipeline sector — have helped the capital managers justify greater investment in an aging infrastructure. Solid control system engineering can help keep these investments to a minimum while at the same time provide the industry with a much needed technological boost.
P&GJ: Share some of the trends you are noticing right now in control system integration where these industries are concerned.
Juckett: There is a much greater focus on safety lifecycle management, waste reduction, and the ability to better monitor and control your pipeline. All of these areas are getting much more attention than they did in the recent past and they should. The pipeline industry is somewhat of an “unseen” component of the petroleum life cycle.
As environmental regulation and OSHA/DOT scrutiny increases, so do the costs associated with compliance. Many of the companies that operate in this industry sector have been tracking and documenting compliance for many years. Now it’s just a case of gathering that data into one controlled and accessible system.
P&GJ: Where do you see the most potential for improvement?
Juckett: Control system integrators should help their clients reduce overhead. Any improvement made to pipeline control and monitoring systems has to ultimately reduce overhead. Any way you look at it, this is the key performance indicator for a pipeline operator. What is the cost per barrel necessary to move product safely and efficiently through the pipeline network? If you can bring that concept to the table — coupled with world-class solutions — then you can truly bring improvement to the pipeline business.
P&GJ: What do you think the future holds for control system integration in these industries?
Juckett: With each cycle of technological upgrade, the pipeline industry gets a more detailed and accurate view of its respective pipeline operation. The old cliché “we need eyes in the pipe” will always be the ultimate goal of technological advance.
Intelligent control systems could one day help the operations and control center folks make better informed decisions while minimizing the risk of making large volumes of product that you cannot use or sell, and more importantly, avoid releasing product to grade and atmosphere.
P&GJ: Mangan is a CSIA-certified control system integrator. What does this achievement require and how do end users benefit from certification?
Juckett: Required every three years, the CSIA certification process boils down to an intense, five-day audit process that is conducted by a third-party compliance firm. The auditors arrive on site to scrutinize and evaluate Mangan’s general policies and procedures as well as review projects and deliverables that the company has produced for our clients.
Several layers including corporate management, human resources, administration, marketing, business development, sales, project execution and project engineering are all subject to questions about the services and products we provide.
Ultimately, it is a process that benefits all parties because the focus is on areas of improvement otherwise lost in daily activity. Finally, as a CSIA-certified member there is the knowledge that you are up-to-date with industry standards, and you can reassure your clients of the same.