When you work with advanced automated industrial software and information controls, there are a lot of engineering companies out there that could potentially mishandle your existing infrastructure. If you’re just now on the hunt for an automation engineering company, you should foremost look for a firm that can ensure adequate testing and strict quality control. Automated software service providers like these can exponentially help mitigate the risks of production downtime and inconsistent products.
As you conduct your search, you’re likely to encounter droves of prospective partners approved to program brand-name software. But that doesn’t necessarily make them qualified to integrate effective industrial automation solutions for your unique business. The potential candidates you interview should display a breadth of knowledge about the industrial bakery industry and a willingness to adapt to your specific architecture and strategic growth objectives.
To help save time with the vetting process, the team at EZSoft has put together the top 6 questions to ask when assessing automation engineering companies for your industrial bakery. This list should help you source the best possible automation integrator, one that takes a conscientious approach to your most critical projects and won’t put your existing systems in jeopardy.
1. How well matched is the scope of your project with the automation integrator’s background and expertise?
This first question for yourself forms the best point of departure because it’s the best way to establish a framework for hiring your next integrator. Even if your project isn’t fully fleshed out yet, you can begin by enumerating the systems impacted by your upcoming initiative. This strategy will help orientate your goals and identify a service provider that best meets your needs.
If you’re unclear on the direction of your project at the outset, consider collaborating with a prospective automation engineering company as a consultant during the implementation planning stages. A dependable integrator will help you develop your project and inform you of any available resources that fall outside the range of their normal expertise.
2. Is the prospective automation engineering company flexible enough to adapt to your existing systems?
Upon interviewing a candidate, identifying which automation companies are suitable for your processes and existing production equipment and industrial software solutions is critical. Integrators that are flexible and confident enough to adapt to your manufacturing plant, preferred programming methods, and company nomenclature give your automation projects the most chance of success.
Surprisingly few bakery owners pursue this approach when interviewing prospective industrial automation software engineering companies. As a result, they often end up steamrolled by questionable service providers who deliver solutions that don’t serve their company’s objectives. In another similar scenario, a company that’s ill-equipped to meet your needs may propose a system that may be fully capable in its own right, but ineffective after pairing with your existing systems.
Ultimately, the solution can’t be integrated in any meaningful way. That’s why it’s important to locate an engineering firm that is both approachable and flexible enough to adapt to your requirements while displaying ample experience integrating automated industrial bakery systems.
3. What level of testing will the integrator provide before and after delivery?
System testing is vital, and the integrator should have a clear process for testing their proposed solution both before and after delivery. The engineers must have an action plan for testing the instrumentation to ensure it doesn’t malfunction before permanently installing it into your automated architecture. Start this discussion by relaying any known concerns.
This approach will help determine whether or not the automation engineering company has the appropriate experience. If it does, the company should have no trouble simulating your processes before installing the recommended solution in your food production facility. Ask if the engineers can back up their implementation plan with case studies and any other documentation that can attest to the previous success of the integrator.
4. How much training will the automated systems integrator provide?
Find out if the engineering firm will train your team and you after delivering the system. This is a critical piece to the negotiation because many companies will make a swift exit after integrating their solution, leaving your operators and you to fend for yourselves. Others will charge out for what’s frequently called “out-of-spec troubleshooting.”
Reputable integrators train your staff before giving you full control over the solution. As you learn the new procedures, vital questions invariably arise. Therefore, you want to source an integrator that’s prepared to stick around until you are comfortable enough to manage the new solution on your own. Be sure to check references and get any commitments in writing in the form of a service level agreement (SLA). And remember to politely steer away from third-party integrators that won’t support your project after integration.
5. Is the quote provided comprehensive?
All too often wholesale industrial bakery owners receive a quote for their automation projects, and it fails to cover everything required to install the system. Engineering automation companies that fall into this category are easily identified when they’re asking you probing questions to apprehend the complete scope of your project. The best way to hash this out is by asking for a comprehensive proposal that reflects the attention to detail required for successful integration.
6. At what point should the integrator’s involvement start?
If your automation project depends on outsourced expertise, it’s crucial that you get the right engineering company involved as soon as possible. If you bring the firm in during the design phase, the integrator is in a better position to test the system and provide more detailed training to your staff and you.
Are you in the process of evaluating engineering automation companies now? If so, consider working with EZSoft. We’re a full-service integrator of information and control systems for the process industries. For more on how EZSoft can deliver the strategies and solutions to meet the complex requirements of your industrial bakery, inquire with us online or dial (484) 568-5040 now.