Latest CSIA Best Practices and Benchmarks Manual clarifies existing practices

The Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) recently released version 4.0 of its Best Practices and Benchmarks Manual, the industry standard for managing a successful integration business. Jeff Miller, director of automation services at Interstates Control Systems and chair of CSIA’s Best Practices Committee, shares details on the latest release.

07/30/2012


Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). Courtesy: CSIACFE Media asked the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) about its the recently released version 4.0 of the CSIA Best Practices and Benchmarks Manual, designed to help control system integrators manage a successful integration business. Jeff Miller, director of automation services at Interstates Control Systems and chair of CSIA’s Best Practices Committee, shared details on the latest release.

CFE Media: What do manufacturers most need from their system integrator? How does the updated version of the manual help meet those needs?

Jeff Miller: Manufacturers are typically looking for a well-designed and fully integrated control solution that meets all their functional specifications. They expect that the system integrator is a technical expert in the automated solution and that, if issues are seen in their design, the integrator will offer value-add solutions. They are also looking for the delivery process to go smoothly, with regular communications during the project to ensure that they know the status of the project and feel comfortable that the defined scope will be delivered on time and on budget. The manufacturer also needs long-term service and support of the control solution.

Jeff Miller is the director of automation services at Interstates Control Systems Inc., a CSIA certified system integrator since 2003.

The latest version of the CSIA Best Practices manual addresses all of these needs. Section 5 of the manual deals with project management, section 6 deals with the system development lifecycle, section 7 deals with project delivery supporting activities, section 8 deals with quality assurance, and section 9 deals with service and support.

CFE Media: What are the biggest changes in version 4.0?

Miller: The newest addition to the best practices manual is the service and support section. However, our main priority for version 4.0 was to clarify the sections that integrators struggled with most, according to the independent auditors who conduct the certification audits. For example, we added best practices for sales management to the section that covers marketing, business development, and sales management. Risk management best practices were changed, based on feedback from the CSIA insurance broker.

Finally, because we have more integrators from around the world interested in becoming certified, we made changes throughout the manual to make sure standards applied globally, not just in North America. We will continue to fine-tune best practices as CSIA’s international membership grows.

CFE Media: Does version 4.0 make it easier to get certification?

Miller: The audit did not get easier, but the manual is easier to understand and implement. We modified and clarified several sections to make the best practices more instructive. The feedback from our certified members and auditors was that we did not need to “raise the bar” any further, as previous versions had. It was felt that the bar had been raised significantly when we released version 3.0 several years ago.

CFE Media: Why is CSIA certification important, both to the integrator and to the manufacturer?

Miller: For the manufacturer, CSIA certification is verification that the integrator is a well-managed business that can successfully deliver on its promises. When procurement sees the CSIA certified logo, it knows the integrator is committed to being successful, both in business and technology services.

For integrators, being CSIA certified is a valuable marketing tool that distinguishes them in the marketplace. Many certified members say the process of preparing for an audit and becoming certified is of tremendous value in and of itself. Making time to examine business practices and determine ways to improve processes fosters an environment where everyone on the team is thinking about continuous improvement. We all want to make “better, best,” and adopting CSIA’s best practices is a proven method for doing that.

CFE Media: What was the process to develop these changes? How did your committee go about finding ways to improve the manual?

Miller: Every four years, a group of certified members from the Best Practices Committee as well as our independent auditors convenes and discusses developments in system integration that have transpired since the previous version. This committee also reviews any feedback that has been received by the auditors from system integrators going through the certification audit process. We write a first draft and send it to clients and vendor partners, with a request to tell us if we’re asking for the right information and if we’re auditing for the right thing. We take in their feedback and introduce a pilot audit process based on the draft version. Comments from auditors and members who participated in the pilot are incorporated in the final revisions. The cooperative effort among clients, integrators, and vendors results in a better guidebook.

CFE Media: How will you measure the success of this version of the manual?

Miller: The third-party auditors retained to determine if system integrators are applying the best practices appropriately will be our best judge if the new version is making a difference. One major goal of this revision was to make the document easier to understand and not raise the certification bar during this update. If we were successful we should see more companies becoming certified system integrators in their first audit. This does not mean that the audit is easier to pass, rather that the best practices are easier to understand and implement.

CFE Media: In what languages will the CSIA Best Practices and Benchmark Manual be available?

Miller: The manual released June 15 is available in English. We hope to release a Spanish version by late July to early August. We also are looking for translation services for Portuguese. The Portuguese version will likely not be completed until late 2012. No other translations are planned at this time.

CFE Media: How can members and others who are interested learn more?

Miller: CSIA members can obtain an electronic copy of the manual by visiting the association’s Web community, the CSIA Connected Community, where the complete document is stored in the “Member Resources for Managing Your Business” library. Others who are interested in learning more will find the certification and audit process summarized on the association’s website, www.controlsys.org.

- Edited by CFE Media’s Control Engineering, Plant Engineering, and Consulting-Specifying Engineer staff.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2013 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
The true cost of lubrication: Three keys to consider when evaluating oils; Plant Engineering Lubrication Guide; 11 ways to protect bearing assets; Is lubrication part of your KPIs?
Contract maintenance: 5 ways to keep things humming while keeping an eye on costs; Pneumatic systems; Energy monitoring; The sixth 'S' is safety
Transport your data: Supply chain information critical to operational excellence; High-voltage faults; Portable cooling; Safety automation isn't automatic
Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Plant Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.

Maintaining low data center PUE; Using eco mode in UPS systems; Commissioning electrical and power systems; Exploring dc power distribution alternatives
Synchronizing industrial Ethernet networks; Selecting protocol conversion gateways; Integrating HMIs with PLCs and PACs
Why manufacturers need to see energy in a different light: Current approaches to energy management yield quick savings, but leave plant managers searching for ways of improving on those early gains.

Annual Salary Survey

Participate in the 2013 Salary Survey

In a year when manufacturing continued to lead the economic rebound, it makes sense that plant manager bonuses rebounded. Plant Engineering’s annual Salary Survey shows both wages and bonuses rose in 2012 after a retreat the year before.

Average salary across all job titles for plant floor management rose 3.5% to $95,446, and bonus compensation jumped to $15,162, a 4.2% increase from the 2010 level and double the 2011 total, which showed a sharp drop in bonus.

2012 Salary Survey Analysis

2012 Salary Survey Results

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.