Expecting The Unexpected: The Risks That Didn’t Make The Project Plan

Posted by Brad Ems on May 1, 2012 @ 8:58 am

If you’ve been in controls long enough, it’s happened to you: a project that seemed to be going well suddenly hits a wall that was unforeseen and whose effects threaten to derail it irreversibly. My Waterloo came with a project to automate a press that made abrasive bars for honing pipe welds, compressing sand-like material into rectangular “sticks” that were then baked to produce the final product. The automation portion was reasonably straightforward, applying mechanical and controls equipment that would feed the raw material into the die cavities, compress it and automatically offload the pressed sticks to small pallets. The usual risks were identified and hedged: subcontractor performance issues, equipment delays, personnel scheduling, etc. What doomed the project was my failure to heed a small, offhand comment made by the client even before the project began about how dif... Continue Reading

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Four Reasons Why You Need to Attend Our Webinar: Upgrading DCS with No BS

Posted by Paul Galeski on April 30, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

With budget constraints, fear, uncertainty and doubt, DCS migration most likely feels like a nightmare. But we can make it easier. MAVERICK’s Upgrading DCS with No BS can help you sort through the mess and come out on top. Here are four good reasons to attend.

  1. We’ll Give Straight Answers — There’s a lot of talk about DCS migration. It can be hard for project managers to cut to the chase and get the answers they need — so we’ll provide them for you. OEM’s won’t try to sell you their DCS package at this webinar. You’ll just get what you need: practical information to help you understand the real ROI of DCS migration.
  2. You’ll Get Actionable, Real-World Advice — MAVERICK Founder and CEO Paul Galeski and Seni... Continue Reading

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Why Resources are Creating a Bottleneck in the Automation World

Posted by Chad Harper on April 25, 2012 @ 8:43 am

A perfect storm is brewing in the automation world, and it has nothing to do with hardware or software. It’s about resources, which are fast becoming a bottleneck in the industry. Why? Well, there are several factors at play. I’ll address some of the bigger ones:


It’s been widely publicized that the workforce within the automation profession is aging. A recent survey showed that more than 25% of the respondents were over 55, and almost 60% were over 45. When this group retires, the collective knowledge and history of the plant operations goes with them. There’s a noticeable gap before current senior engineers are ready to fill their roles, and we’ve seen a lot of clients suffer when their most senior people leave the plant.

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Why Process Control Migration Projects Fail

Posted by Brian Batts on April 18, 2012 @ 11:37 am

Is fear of failure haunting your upcoming migration project? Engineers are pretty good with band-aids and bailing wire, so absolute failure is rare. But in process control, pitfalls like exceeding budget, operations rejection, and maintenance headaches could constitute failure. In migration projects, most of these pitfalls originate not from incompetence but from missed opportunities. Let’s take budgeting as an example. You didn’t want an unfundable, fat “budgetary” estimate, so you warned the vendor, “I need a realistic, FUNDABLE budget!” Unfortunately, your vendor’s interpretation was, “Give me the bare minimum.” After the project, you’ll have a functioning solution, but your operations team will be missing features they use every day in your current system. Was it avoidable? Could you realistically have noticed something was missing from the proposal as you went... Continue Reading

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DCS Migration: Some Key Factors to Consider

Posted by Don Dickson on April 11, 2012 @ 9:07 am

Most people on the hunt for a new DCS system have never been through a migration before. The industry average life of a DCS is about 17 years, so it’s not something that happens every day. A DCS migration is a substantial investment that should be carefully weighed and fully vetted before making a final decision, so consider these important factors before you migrate.

  • Cost — This is almost everyone’s most important decision point. Don’t make the mistake of focusing only on the system hardware cost. There will be system installation service, configuration, training, commissioning and maintenance on top of it. Narrowing the list to two or three DCS vendors can help drive down hardware costs. From there, consider using other qualified suppliers to lower the cost of related services.
  • Interoperability — Define what systems the new DCS will need to interface wi... Continue Reading

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