Selecting a process systems partner is like choosing your best friend. Your best friend is someone you trust. They understand you and will prioritize your needs. Just like a best friend, maintaining a good relationship with your process systems partner requires a commitment to clear communication. How do you select a good process system partner? Here’s a list of 10 top qualities you want in your process systems partner:
Proven track record: Check to make sure your process systems partner has a track record of successfully completed projects like yours. Better yet, a track record of success in your specific industry.
A network of knowledgeable engineering experts with end-user experience: It’s easy to say a company has proven engineering expertise in multiple disciplines. We have all seen company marketing material proclaiming extensive engineering expertise. That claim is no guarantee of the company’s ability to provide a solution that works for your needs. So how do you weed through the noise and determine what is valuable? It’s one thing to have the appropriate college degree or years of experience. It’s another to have been in your shoes and truly understand your needs. Make sure your vendor has the real-life experience to know exactly what you need to be successful. That life experience also gives them the ability to anticipate problems and provide solutions that work.
Communication: Communication happens in multiple ways: emails, phone calls, or in person, to name a few. Everyone communicates, but not everyone communicates well. Make sure the process partner you select provides clear communication on deliverables and timelines. Make sure you are assigned a dedicated project manager with consistent project meetings to ensure your needs are met.
Flexibility: Very seldom is a project completed without issues, material backorders, or even change orders. As you walk through your project, opportunities to improve your process will begin to surface. Your process systems partner may even ask questions that guide you to engineering solutions to streamline your process. Make sure your manufacturing partner is willing to work with you as your vision evolves.
Understands your business: It goes without saying, the manufacturing partner you select must understand your industry. Look for a partner who can demonstrate a strong understanding of the problems you face and can offer you solutions on how to improve your process. Look for a partner that knows how to ask the right questions to help you understand what the must-haves of your project are, and then build out a project plan to accomplish it.
Project management:An extension of communication, make sure your partner appoints one point person who is responsible for all project communication. Whether it is developing the program timeline or sharing any project updates, a singular contact person makes the communication process much clearer.
Automation expertise: Make sure your process systems partner understands and builds your solution with automation. A process system can be built without automation with the idea of adding it at a later date but adding automation after the fact is not always ideal. Depending on your design, workarounds may lead to lower levels of automation. Build your solution with the end in mind and your process system will work from the very start.
In-House Fabrication: When engineering and fabrication occur in separate locations, that separation can create a disconnect or communications issues. With both disciplines under one roof, good communication is much easier to maintain. Good communication also helps resolve any production issues that come up. In-house fabrication and engineering will help your project run smoothly and with fewer delays.
FAT: The Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) is important to ensure your process system works as designed from day one. FAT is a critical step to identify and fix problems before installation. Also, not all FAT processes go well. There is nothing worse than going into an FAT process with a vendor that is not prepared and does not have the proper documentation or process flow on hand. Ask your process partner about their FAT process. Do they have a process to ensure you get the most out of your FAT? Will they provide a checklist to test and verify all functions and components? FATs help you address any issues before installation and to ensure your process system works from day one.
On-site commissioning & startup support: Commissioning and startup is the final step of your new process systems implementation. Ask your vendor what guidance and documentation they provide for commissioning. Make sure your vendor is on hand to ensure all pre-commissioning activities proceed without a hitch. Be sure to confirm your vendor will provide manuals and other documentation as needed. More importantly, your vendor should be on hand for the necessary training to get your process system up and running as soon as possible.
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Choosing the right process systems partner can make the difference between a smooth implementation or a rocky startup full of issues that delay your ability to manufacture your product. Asking the right questions during the selection process will help you identify the right partner for your project. If you are ready to choose a partner, contact EPIC today.