Can a System Integrator and DCS Principal fully ensure Benefits of Plant DCS during the Planned Life Cycle


Thread Starter

Dr. R. Murugesan

Due to Globalisation Phenomena and incresing gap in manufacturing infrastructure in India, Automation Business is booming currently.

Total Cost of 'Initial Ownership' and 'Early Implementation' are of serious concern to Project Promoters in the country.

Major Automation Suppliers have not foreseen such increased market demand or industry needs; and, have not proportionately increased the workforce or skill sets to respond to customer needs. Yet, possibly to grab the market share and to reduce overheads and perhaps to 'pass the buck' of future responsibility, several Automation Companies in the country have chosen to commission System Integrators to capitalise the market. It's unsure on the durability of the Principal's relationship with the System Integrator added to the woe of fast M&As.

In the past, companies that installed Taylor MOD platforms, Bailey Infy, MAX systems are left high and dry with no support from 'past suppliers'!

In industry circles and professional associations, managers voice their serious concern on the difficulty of chosing the 'Best Automation Partner' to ensure the anticipated benefits from industrial automation.

Specific inputs and case reports on the above from professionals would be highly appreciated.

Best regards,

Dr. R. Murugesan

Rezabek, John

Dr. Murugesan,
How is the systems integrator different from an EPC firm / consultant? In my mind, the consequences of some decision or judgment have to be extremely egregious to "go after" the EPC, and even then, the likely returns are limited since consultants and integrators alike have little "real assets".

In my case, the firm doing systems integration was local to the engineering firm (EPC) not the ultimate location of the plant - as were most of the manufacturing reps providing the instruments. Within a year or two of startup, most of our concerns were being addressed by the OEM or their local representatives.

In the circumstance you describe, I think it's consistent to hold the OEM accountable for the work of the integrators they select.

Dr. R. Murugesan

Dear Mr. Rezabek,

Thank you for your valuable inputs; I'm sorry for the delayed rejoinder, as I was away on an assignment.

Typically, an EPC Contractor offers an integrated Project Solution comprising several (if not all) Engineering Disciplines with the scope of work covering from Engineering (including Basic and Detailed), Procurement of Hardware & Software, Project Management, Construction & Commissioning until the plant is put on stream.

The financial outlay is huge in an EPC approach. Physical assets contribute to a maximum.

The scope of work of System Integrator is in above lines but only for a particular package {like PLC, DCS, VFD, MCC, SWAS). This is a specialist work and the System Integrator would have rich domain experience of a particular lineage and Principal support (say of ABB, Siemens, Honeywell). In this case, there are phycial assets. The front-end for such offerings is only the System Integrator and not the Principal (OEM). Should the Client face any problem with the System Integrator in his support in the post-implementation stage, rarely any Principal (OEM) comes to the rescue of the Client quoting fiscal reasons! In India, we have faced quite a many problems with a variety of System Integrators!

Engineering Consultants offer (Basic and or) Detailed Engineering Services covering many or most Engineering Disciplines for the entire project. Apart from drawings & documents, there are no other assets involved!

Trust the above would address your queries.


Dr. R. Murugesan

Bob Peterson

There is no question that bringing in people with specialized knowledge, experience, and talents can be a major boon to any project. And it is not unusual to need what are essentially technically proficient warm bodies that system integrators can provide.

Unfortunately, efficiently and effectively using these resources is another story. It seems that what tends to happen is that managers try to handle the work load with existing resources, and only get additional resources when they are desperate and things are already in crisis mode.
Dr. Murugesan,

I suggest you refer to the Best Practices and Benchmarks documents produced by the Control System Integrators' Association ( Your description of what a modern, state of the art control system integrator is, and should be, is off the mark. Most system integrators (and all of the Certified CSIA integrators) are conversant with numerous vendors' products, and provide "best of breed" solutions. Most EPCs, on the other hand, provide the lowest cost project. This is why many EPCs simply look to a vendor to be the MAC (Major Automation Contractor) or MIC (Main Instrumentation Contractor) and leave a blank in the plans that says "put automation system here." Many system integrators, such as Mustang, Maverick, Optimation (which recently _bought_ the entire automation engineering department from Kodak!!!) and others, are fully capable of service as MAC or MIC on any project of any size anywhere in the world.

Walt Boyes
Editor in Chief
Control magazine
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Putman Media Inc.
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Dear Mr. Walt Boyes,

Referring to the reply that you post, are you saying MAC by automation contractor is not a good strategy compared by MAC by System Integrator.

I have posted a query on MAC before, and appreciate if some advice on MAC strategy can be shared. Is it better in the old way of EPCC or MAC at the end of FEED before going to EPCC? How to weigh the advantages vs. disadvantages.

Any end-user that have been adopting MAC and any sharing on your perspective? Is it more cost efficient and easing project management?