CSIA members support Ukraine SIs

May 9, 2022
Autoware calls on system integrators to donate time to fellow professionals

The Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) reported Apr. 28 that its members are seeking ways to help their fellow SIs and end users in Ukraine, who are trying to keep processes and plants running despite the continuing devastation caused by Russia's recent invasion.

CSIA members and counterparts from the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA), International Society of Automation (ISA) and other participants worldwide attended a webinar on Apr. 13 about the Professionals4Ukraine initiative, learned about the state of its industrial and system integration market, and heard from SIs who desperately need support.

“Some of the SI companies on the webinar had offices in Kyiv and Mariupol. Those cities were heavily bombed, so they had to relocate because their offices were destroyed,” says Luigi De Bernardini, CEO of Autoware S.R.L., a CSIA-certified SI in Vicenza, Italy. “A man from one of the SI businesses, who was presenting his company’s projects told us he is back at work after finishing three weeks serving in Ukraine's army. They fight for a period, then return to their business, so you can imagine how terrible it is for these people. They have to bomb and kill people, and then go back to work.”

Give time during wartime 

CSIA is also encouraging its members to provide humanitarian support to Ukraine. For example, Autoware is also piloting its One Hour for Ukraine (1H4U) program, which encourages its staff to donate work hours. Their contributions are matched twofold by Autoware, which makes periodic donations to the Association of Industrial Automation of Ukraine.

Bernardini adds the intention is for other companies to replicate its model or assist whatever cause in Ukraine they choose. “All of us were touched by what's happening in Ukraine,” says Bernardini, who's also a past CSIA board chair. “We Europeans are probably more sensitive since it's happening so close to us and we can sometimes feel powerless." 

Alexandre Yurchak, CEO of the Association of Industrial Automation of Ukraine, adds: “It's a big honor and a great opportunity for our community to have such a relationship with CSIA. Our best engineering companies and system integrators are ready to work with their counterparts around the world. And we really need this work as never before."

Yurchak has led the Ukrainian side of the SI organizations' collaboration as part of his efforts to help his members deal with their wartime economy. “What we appreciate even more is the friendly and fast response of CSIA to our situation," adds Yurchak. "It shows a new kind professional solidarity that drives our community to be together and hold the line on the economic front.”

Relationships for rebuilding 

In addition, CSIA's board also voted unanimously Apr. 19 to award complimentary memberships for 2022-23 to the Association of Industrial Automation of Ukraine. “Our goal is to provide the space for Ukrainian members to network with other CSIA members and explore possible outsourcing opportunities,” says Jose Rivera, CEO of CSIA. “The war in Ukraine has disrupted regular local peacetime work opportunities. This contrasts with the explosive business growth benefiting SIs in many other locations. Outsourcing can also help other SIs alleviate the serious talent shortages they're experiencing." 

Beyond outsourcing, CSIA and its members hope their new relationships will help Ukraine's SIs rebuild their industries. “Several Ukrainian SIs and engineering companies have worked with Western companies and delivered projects beyond their borders,” notes Rivera. “A few have offices in Germany, the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates. Language doesn't create a barrier.”

Bernardini adds: “Everyone has their own reasons for supporting the Ukrainian people. Where I believe we have a lot of room to improve is in leveraging the power of our professional associations and acting as professionals supporting colleagues. That's why we decided to donate time and effort and not just money. If our colleagues in any part of the world are in trouble, we can help as professionals. This is something that I don’t see happening many times, and I thought this was a good opportunity to start. If we put our efforts together, we can do a lot. From professionals to professionals!”