Automation
TECH FLASH

Complexity of systems, shortage of engineers spells trouble

One organization helps processors find qualified technical people

November 28, 2012
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+
Complexity of systems, shortage of engineers spells trouble inline

In designing complex systems, respondents to the Aberdeen survey cite complex designs and integration problems as top challenges in system design. Source: Aberdeen Group.

A recent research brief from Aberdeen Group, Managing Systems Design Complexity: 3 Tips to Save Time, looks at the issues of increasingly complex systems of interconnected software, electrical systems and mechanical components. Automation products based on these systems with embedded software have enhanced functionality, but the complexity of these systems has grown exponentially, says the study.

“Plant engineers are often called on to troubleshoot mechanical and electrical issues in the plant, but they seldom write code for the overall plant control system and struggle at times to dig into it to determine the problem,” says Jeff Miller, chair of Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) best practices committee. Miller also says technical and maintenance staffs are shrinking at manufacturing operations in North America and around the world.

“Engineers tend to be experts within their domains, but have limited understanding outside of it,” says Michelle Boucher, Aberdeen researcher. “The availability of experienced engineers continues to lag behind demand for their services.”

Many engineers are reaching retirement age and are not being replaced—often because engineers with specialized technical expertise can’t be found in a tight labor market, says Miller. He has seen an increase of manufacturers contacting CSIA for help. “Every day, CSIA members provide the marketplace with control system expertise. We stay on top of new technology and know how to use it.

“More CSIA integrator companies are required by their customers to commit to service and support contracts,” adds Miller. “CSIA believes the need is critical enough to create an integrator best practice around it.”

CSIA added a section on service and support to the Best Practices and Benchmarks Manual when it was revised in 2012. The manual provides integrators with industry-proven best practices in areas of general management, human resources, marketing, financial management, project management, system development lifecycle, supporting activities and quality assurance.

CSIA’s Best Practices and Benchmarks Manualoffers a defined process for delivering service and support that is different from integrator-supported projects, according to Miller. It guides CSIA members on how to best work with clients in this role. For more information on CSIA’s Best Practices or how to find an integrator, visit the CSIA website.

For more information on the Aberdeen report, Managing Systems Design Complexity: 3 Tips to Save Time, visit the report’s web page.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

Plant of the Year 2014

Blue Diamond Growers was chosen as Food Engineering's 2014 Plant of the Year. The Sacramento-based company is the world’s largest producer of almonds and almond ingredients.

Podcasts

Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

FSMA Audit

What is the is most important step you have taken to become ready for a FSMA audit?
View Results Poll Archive

Food Engineering

FE August 2014

2014 August

The August 2014 issue of Food Engineering explores how your operation could be doing more to create a culture of employee engagement. Also, read more on how your business and insurance partners must know the basics of your business and its nuances as well.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE FOOD ENGINEERING STORE

Food-Authentication-Flyer-(.gif
Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.

Food Master

Food Master Cover 2014Food Master 2014 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit www.foodmaster.com to learn more.

STAY CONNECTED

FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +