Choosing the right systems integrator for your DC automation project

When planning your DC automation project one of the most important decision you will have to consider is which vendor will you utilise for your systems integrator.

The system integrator’s role will be pivotal in bringing all the elements together, ensuring there is full software communication and integration with your equipment, they will maximise the rate, progress and outcomes of your DC automation project. In short the vendor you choose as your system integrator will be the linchpin who ensures that each cog contributes fully to the success and integrity of your project

With many vendors out there vying for your business how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? Here are a few things to consider to help you to evaluate and make a successful choice.

Background
Ensure you check the background of each tender/candidate for your project, does the vendor have the relevant experience in your particular field ?. Check references from previous contracts they have fulfilled along with software and equipment suppliers. Look at other industry sources that are available to gain as much background information as possible, a rushed decision will be a poor decision.

Commitment
Ensure that the tender/candidate is able to fully supply the personnel, resources and time to fully commit to your project, build in reviews to ensure all commitments are kept and schedules are adhered to without any slippage. If you have any doubts about the ability to fully commit it is probably better to leave well alone.

Independence
Look for truly unbiased tenders or candidates. Those who are allied to particular software or equipment suppliers are likely to be receiving incentives for these products and are unlikely  to give you the best solutions. Look for those who are willing to consider all options to ensure the success of your project, if a tender/candidate seems rigid in their solutions ask yourself why.

Statement of Work (SoW)
The Statement of Work is essential to be completed prior to the commencement of any project. This should include all timescales, obligations, responsibilities of both parties, deliverables and should be as detailed as possible. The Statement of Work needs to be agreed upon and should be an integral part of the contract and be considered at each contact review where any issues or problems can be resolved at the earliest opportunity.

Relationship
On the face of it this may not seem that important, however, due to the intensity of DC automation the relationship with your system integrator is going to be an ongoing one. When making your choice of tender/candidate consider whether they are going to be able to engage and lead all the key players, will they be able to maintain their motivation and the ability to motivate others throughout the contract? will they be amenable to suggestions or ideas for improvement? Do they buy into your ethos and understand your goals and objectives? Do you feel you can build and maintain a professional partnership with them? Remember the systems integrator is going to be an integral cog in the machine that is your DC automation project, choose wisely and you will reap the benefits and rewards you desire.

This is not an exhaustive list and of course is based on opinion, however, I hope this have given you food for thought and helps you make the decisions that are right for you and help you achieve the successes you desire.

Richard Haynes has been in the industrial warehouse industry for many years. You can find him on

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