A Guide to System Integration | Automation System Integration
The integration of an automation system is highly complex. It involves connecting numerous physical hardware components (e.g., automation technology to existing equipment) and non-physical software, service, and source (e.g., suppliers, distributors, and end customers) components. The main goal is ensuring all components are linked such that they work together as a whole. While some organizations may find automation system integration to be challenging, an experienced and knowledgeable system integration company can assist them in navigating the process.
At Optimation, we provide automation system integration solutions to customers across a wide range of industries. Our experts have put together the following guide to system integration to help new and existing customers understand the process.
What Is System Integration?
In the simplest terms, system integration is the incorporation of multiple components (i.e., sub-systems) into one system that works as a single unit. It connects all of the components, allowing them to “speak” to each other and share important information that may influence how the system operates and performs. This interconnectivity speeds up the flow of information, which facilitates decision-making, streamlines operations, and improves productivity.
Typically, system integration methods can be classified into five categories:
- Point-to-point integration: Point-to-point integration is the simplest form of integration. It involves connecting two sub-systems to support one combined function.
- Vertical integration: Vertical integration connects more than two systems to support multiple functions by siloing each function from the bottom up, creating a vertical integration of sub-systems into a larger whole.
- Star integration: Star integration involves connecting each sub-system to other sub-systems using point-to-point connections. The result is a highly interconnected network of sub-systems with demands that increase with the number of integrations involved.
- Horizontal integration: Horizontal integration uses one separate sub-system as the interface between all other sub-systems. It allows the sub-systems to communicate with one another without a direct connection. Additionally, it eliminates the need for the interfaces of other sub-systems to be redone when one of the sub-systems is changed or replaced.
- Common data format integration: Common data format integration enables each sub-system to convert information from its native format to a common format and vice versa. It reduces the number of data transformations needed and, consequently, decreases maintenance requirements.
System Integration Applications
System integration projects can involve a variety of components. Examples include:
Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) / Human- Machine Interface (HMI)
- FactoryTalk View SE/ME
- InTouch/InTouch Machine Edition
- SIMATIC WinCC
Distributed Control Systems
- ABB MOD 300
- Delta V
- Fisher Provox
- Foxboro IA
- Simatic PCS 7
- NI (LabVIEW)
Historical Data Collection
- Rockwell Historian
- Aveva Historian
- iFix Historian
- SAP Manufacturing Execution
- Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform
Why Do You Need a Control System Integrator?
A control system integrator is a specialist with useful expertise in business, information technology, manufacturing, and engineering. This expertise enables them to develop and deliver an appropriate control system solution for an industrial (e.g., manufacturing or processing) problem. They have the knowledge and skills to incorporate automation technology into a facility to enhance operations. The solutions they provide can save time, reduce costs, eliminate waste, and improve production.
The experts at Optimation offer a range of system integration services to meet the automation requirements of various manufacturing and processing industries. The markets we serve are aerospace, automotive, ceramic, chemical, film, food and beverage, glass, oil and gas, plastic, and energy. We can provide complete solutions, including final project engineering, documentation, hardware procurement, custom software development, installation, testing, commissioning, and training.
There are a variety of project management methodologies. Our team uses either the waterfall design approach or the Agile approach for system integration projects.
- The waterfall design approach is a traditional model based on manufacturing and construction industry projects and used when developing engineering systems. It involves reviewing and verifying tasks completed in one phase before proceeding to the next phase.
- The Agile approach is based on principles that focus on people, collaboration, results, and responses to change. It involves breaking down the process into several phases completed in short time frames (i.e., iterations). At the end of each iteration, a working product is delivered. After multiple iterations, a new or updated product is released.
Our typical approach to system integration projects includes the following steps:
- Defining user requirements
- Defining functional requirements
- Determining design requirements
- Designing the system
- Building the system
- Factory acceptance testing
- Installing the system
- Debugging the system
- Validating components and modules
- Site acceptance testing
- Developing system documentation and user manual
Contact Us for Your System Integration Needs!
Automation systems can be highly beneficial for a facility. Typical benefits include:
- Streamlined operations: With system integration, you can access all of your data from one system, reducing the need for time-consuming data exporting, importing, and replication.
- Reduced administration requirements: Administrators can be trained and work on one system without the need for multiple tools and databases, reducing your administration time and costs.
- Enhanced data analysis with real-time data: Integrated systems allow all of your teams to access data in real-time, which helps teams focus on the same goals and reduces the potential for errors or miscommunication.
- Decreased operational, storage, and security costs: Centralized data integration reduces your computer storage space needs and costs and improves information security. Accurate real-time data lets you make effective decisions for more efficient operations.
- Improved growth and innovation: With easy access to real-time data, you can react quickly to market fluctuations to grow your team, increase production, and expand your marketing and sales base.
If you’re ready to get started on your automation system integration project, Optimation is here to help! We are a leading provider of system integration services for the manufacturing and industrial sectors. Our seasoned experts can help you complete full integration and continuous maintenance, so your IT department can focus on your critical day-to-day operations. When you partner with Optimation for automation system integration, you enjoy the following benefits:
- Compliance with CSIA best practices: As a certified member of the Control Systems Integrators Association (CSIA), we are dedicated to applying best practices that promote the safe and reliable establishment of technology in the industrial sector. We use these guidelines to continually improve our processes and practices.
- Extensive product knowledge: Our system integration engineers have in-depth knowledge of existing products, which helps them provide appropriate solutions to customer needs.
- Broad industry experience: Equipped with over 30 years of system integration experience, we have provided exceptional service to customers in the automotive, aerospace, oil, gas, chemical, film, plastic, food, beverage, glass, and ceramic industries.
To learn more about our automation system integration capabilities, contact us today.