CSIA embraces global, digitalized roles

Aug. 15, 2022

Jose Rivera, CEO of CSIA, kicks off its first in-person conference in three years on June 28 in Denver

The Control System Integrators Association (CSIA) held its first in-person executive conference in three years in Denver at the end of June. After two years of virtual meetings, its latest live gathering drew 525 attendees—almost matching its record-setting attendance of more than 530 at its two most recent in-person events in San Diego and Asheville, N.C.

“What emerged during the pandemic is now resurfacing as the new future of work. However, we’ve also been dealing with supply chain issues like chip shortages, along with the impacts of inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said Jose Rivera, CEO of CSIA, in his opening address. “This is why CSIA’s board approved complimentary memberships in April for the system integrator members of the Association of Industrial Automation of Ukraine, so CSIA’s system integrators could help address talent shortages here by outsourcing work to Ukraine. This advances the outreach by former CSIA board chairman Luigi De Bernardini, CEO of Autoware, who talked to the Ukrainian association, identified activities we could do together, and piloted the One Hour for Ukraine (1H4U) and Professionals4Ukraine programs.”

Rivera reported that CSIA had 363 system integrator members at the end of 2021, including 81 that are certified. Of the overall total, it has 101 international members, including 20 that are certified. CSIA also has 83 vendor partner members, including 10 that are international. It also gained three new system integrator members in 2021, but lost 14 vender partners during the same period.

The organization’s 2022-26 strategy includes taking advantage of digital manufacturing technologies, and continuing to bring its members together to share best practices. It’s also in the process of revamping its CSIA eXchange website with Google Map integration, side-by-side comparison capability, and a refreshed appearance and enhanced user experience. CSIA is also upgrading its asset management system (AMS) with a new platform and improved security.

Digitalization cures complexity

In his keynote presentation, Blair Simons, chief engineer for automation engineering at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, reported that its projects are more complex and much harder to automate now, so it needs partners that can help it design, configure and manage them.

“We need to evolve from the current, single-stream, segregated relationship with our system integrators to a more agile, multi-stream relationship with continuing collaboration throughout the product lifecycle,” explained Simons. “System integrators previously weren’t so involved with front-end engineering, but we need more collaboration much sooner in the process to align design decisions, maintain agile project management, coordinate schedules, and have a deep understanding of systems, so we can train before deployment.”

In a discussion following the keynotes, several panelists mulled how increasingly digitalized and democratized technologies can help system integrators and their clients cope with complexity, overcome inertia, and succeed despite the rest of today’s challenges.

“With digitalized tools, we’re solving more problems more easily than before. And many users can apply them with less traditional integration, which means system integrators can work more as advisors and educators,” said Ryan Cahalane, president at Feyen Zylstra, a system integrator in Grand Rapids, Mich. “This isn’t about just earning bigger project fees in the short term. It’s more about accessing application expertise, team knowledge and other resources we couldn’t reach before. It also means reaching a larger audience, and not having to start as many projects from scratch. For example, we’re working with the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Institute (CESMII) on using digitalization to get devices talking to each other more easily.”

Three years of awards winners

 Another benefit of CSIA’s latest in-person event was the presentation of its annual awards for the past three years.

2020 winners:

  • Sage Automation was named integrator company member of the year
  • Eduardo Acosta of Omnicon won the Charlie Bergman “Remember Me” award;
  • Theresa Benson of Red Lion Controls won the Rising Star award; and
  • Exotek was named partner company member of the year.

2021 winners:

  • Hallam-ICS won the social responsibility award;
  • Omnicon was named system integrator company member of the year
  • Joe Martin of Martin CSI won the Charlie Bergman “Remember Me” award;
  • Jeff Winter of Grantek won the Rising Star award; and
  • Aveva was named partner company member of the year.

2022 winners: