CSIA grows profession with best practices

May 4, 2016
Close to 500 attend Control System Integrators Association’s conference in Puerto Rico

In his opening address at the CSIA’s 2016 Executive Conference on April 20, José Rivera, CEO of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA), reported that the 22-year-old organization has grown to 520 total members, including 80% systems integrators. Underscoring its growing international presence, 65 system integrators, partners and guests from 16 nations attended the event, while further progress on diversity was demonstrated by the CSIA’s first Women in Industry networking breakfast during the conference.

A two-day “Best Practices Training” workshop was held immediately before the conference for attendees interested in learning about applying the principles behind CSIA’s “Best Practices and Benchmarking” cornerstone manual  for improving system integration businesses. This year’s event was held April 19-22 at the Grand Meliá Golf Resort near San Juan, Puerto Rico, which enabled some attendees to tour the nearby six-plant Amgen pharmaceutical facility.

“Best practices are the backbone of the benefits that CSIA offers, so we’ve been increasing our webinars dedicated to best practices,” says Rivera. “These are peer-to-peer sessions provided by CSIA-certified members with multiple rounds of certifications.”

Rivera added the impact of CSIA’s best practices is demonstrated by the fact that major automation and control suppliers, such as National Instruments and Schneider Electric, now require CSIA certification for their top-tier project implementation programs. However, to get more users and suppliers to demand CSIA-certified integrators, he added that the organization needs to allow more non-integrator members to join. This proposal was hotly debated during parts of the conference because some members believe CSIA should remain close to, exclusively composed of, and controlled by system integrators as it has been in the past.

During the conference’s annual awards dinner, five organizations and individuals were recognized:

Hargrove Controls + Automation LLC in Mobile, Ala., was named 2016 Integrator Member of the Year. It was founded in 2012 with a team of five engineers, but it has rapidly grown to include 75 control systems engineers and specialists in 11 offices. It’s one of the few fully integrated automation groups for safety systems, industrial IT and plant automation in addition to engineering, construction management and project execution.

National Instruments was recognized as 2016 Partner Member of the Year, and won the award for its achievements in the industry and for how it works with and encourages CSIA’s integrator members.

• The 2016 Rising Star award was presented to Chris Schleich of Enterprise Automation in Irvine, Calif. Schleich was recognized for his appetite for learning, ability to identify and mitigate risk, and drive to follow through.

• Don Ulrich of Stone Technologies Inc. in St. Louis, Mo., received the 2016 Charlie Bergman “Remember Me” Award. Ulrich was recognized for his ongoing and consistent contributions to CSIA, as well as his proactive willingness to support his peers.

• Finally, in a surprise move, several CSIA members revealed that they recently gave “father of the PLC” Dick Morley the organization’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award. Its was presented to Morley at his assisted-living residence in March by Rivera, veteran system integrators Rick Pierro and Rick Caldwell, and software engineer Chuck Schelberg.

“The whole system integration profession started with the PLC, and the first one was Dick’s Modicon 084, and that’s why he’s the first recipient of the CSIA Lifetime Achievement Award,” says Caldwell. “Dick followed a mentoring philosophy for me and many others. Very few innovators not only change the way we think, but change the course of our lives, and that’s what Dick has done for us.”