Do end users benefit from system integrator certification?

End users do perceive benefits when system integrators receive CSIA certification, according to research on end users and interviews by Control Engineering. See graphic.

02/23/2011


End user demand grows for CSIA affiliation. See large version of this graph below. Source: Control EngineeringDo end users recognize the benefits of hiring a CSIA Certified Integrator? (Criteria for CSIA certification can help any automation and controls business.)  Bryan Downer, VP of sales at hygienic processing equipment manufacturer CSI, said he does: “Certification gives us a degree of assurance that the company really can do integration. A lot of people can build panels and write code, but they don’t understand how controls integrate with one another.”

Downer added, “Companies that have invested in their infrastructure to become certified fit a certain mold. They have capabilities that go beyond the root core, that add additional integration value.”

Dan Wesley, supervisor of the Electrical and Instrumentation Department at Professional Engineering Consultants Inc., agreed. His firm of consulting engineers once undertook a retrofit of a water treatment plant and hired a CSIA Certified Integrator to work on the instrumentation and controls.

“I’m glad we required a CSIA Certified Integrator for that project,” Wesley noted. “What we get sometimes is an electrical contractor that does their own instrumentation even though they don’t really know what they’re doing. When it doesn’t work, they don’t know what to do. Going up to the certification helped eliminate the problem of contractors being able to hook up equipment but not fully understanding instrumentation.”

However, Wesley recognized a downside to requiring a certified integrator because there are so few of them. “In a bid situation, it’s difficult to get qualified respondents. It limits the pool of available bidders too much, which is not good for competitive bidding. Contractors need to become more aware of certification.”

That sentiment was recently echoed in an online discussion among CSIA members. Few have seen a bid specification requiring an integrator to be certified, and most explain the significance of CSIA certification to their would-be clients themselves.

On the other hand, many clients learn to appreciate CSIA Certified Integrator proficiency once they learn the details of the CSIA certification audit. Tim Foster, former VP of engineering at Green Planet Farms, learned about CSIA certification from the CSIA Certified Integrator he’d hired for a soy protein isolate production project.

“I found out after we’d finished the selection process that both of my finalists were CSIA-certified,” Foster noted. “It seems that the same qualities that made them worthy of certification made them worthy of my short list. I just didn’t know it at the time.”

Now that he’s aware of the program, Foster said he’ll make CSIA certification a prerequisite for bidding on future projects.

“The certification process demonstrates that the integrator has a higher level of proficiency. They know how to do what you want them to do. CSIA Certified Integrators have a vision that goes beyond ‘can I make this machine do that?’ They have contacts and experience that broaden their ability to bring resources to bear from many different areas. If you don’t already have a preferred integrator, CSIA certification should be the minimum standard for choosing a new one,” Foster said.

- Vance VanDoren, PhD, PE, is Control Engineering consulting editor, at controleng(at)msn.com. www.controleng.com


End user demand grows for CSIA affiliation

End users can search the Automation Integrator Guide for system integrators affiliated with any of 127 professional organizations, including the four most popular shown here. Since 2008, CSIA has topped the list, accounting for as many as 18% of all searches when a professional affiliation was specified.



No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Water use efficiency: Diminishing water quality, escalating costs; Lowering building energy use; Power for fire pumps
Building envelope and integration; Manufacturing industrial Q&A; NFPA 99; Testing fire systems
Labs and research facilities: Q&A with the experts; Water heating systems; Smart building integration; 40 Under 40 winners
Maintaining low data center PUE; Using eco mode in UPS systems; Commissioning electrical and power systems; Exploring dc power distribution alternatives
Protecting standby generators for mission critical facilities; Selecting energy-efficient transformers; Integrating power monitoring systems; Mitigating harmonics in electrical systems
Commissioning electrical systems in mission critical facilities; Anticipating the Smart Grid; Mitigating arc flash hazards in medium-voltage switchgear; Comparing generator sizing software
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.