Ensure a "happy ending" for your plant upgrade

In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Steven Covey  wrote “Begin with the end in mind.”   This is a good habit for life and essential requirement for building a new treatment plant or upgrading an existing one.  Because if you know where you are going, you can usually make sure that you arrive at your destination by keeping yourself and the team on course.  There are two requirements that every project plan must include to ensure a happy ending- Clear consistent communication and a well informed imagination.    

Clear Consistent Communication

At some point we have all played the telephone game.   You know the one where a message is given and passed on via whispers from person to person across the room until a totally different message emerges at the other end of the “line”.  It is great fun and good for a laughs and giggles at a kid’s party.  But this kind of miscommunication isn’t very funny and often proves costly in communicating requirements from users to designers to builders and back to users again in a new plant or plant upgrade project.     

 The traditional approach to building or upgrading a treatment operation involves hiring a design firm that gathers requirements from utility operators.  These are then translated into  specifications.  The specifications are used as the basis for a plant design that are in turn handed over to the build firm that will ultimately deliver a working system.   Often the build firm will put the control systems specification out for bid and award the contract to the lowest bidder.   Worst of all, the SCADA system, the eyes and nerve center of the new or upgraded plant and the most prominent delverable is often left as an afterthought in the design process.    

Between leaving the SCADA as an afterthought and the multiple steps of translation, the users requirements or at least their expectations are often lost or mangled by the time the project is delivered back to them.  Regrettably, the next predictable but unplanned step in traditional project management is a lot of finger pointing to establish blame and rescheduled project delivery.  Of course this can all be corrected, but always at the expense of user satisfaction, project schedule and budget.  No one wants to start with this kind of end in mind.  Clearly Stephen Covey was on to something!

A Well Informed Imagination

The best strategic thinkers are very much aware that everyone has the same two blind spots - we don’t know what we don’t know and we may be wrong about the things we think we know.   Often when starting a project we tend to focus our attention on eliminating the  short-comings of our last plant.   So we often imagine a new plant that does what our old plant did well and doesn’t do what it did poorly.   This is called 20-20 hindsight.  We also draw on our experience to make sure that we avoid excessive spending.   Traditionally, SCADA software licensing costs were based on the number of “tags” and users.  Adding mobile devices was often cost prohibitive.  Enhanced cybersecurity may have also been a costly option. So we may limit our expectations for a new project based on our past experience, assuming that what we really want is simply too expensive.   

But since your last plant upgrade, new software developers have entered the market,  shaking things up with more cost effective licensing options.  They are also including many premium features that traditional software vendors provided only for those willing to pay premium pricing.  And many of these new systems offer capabilities that you may not have even thought about yet.   What you don’t know and being wrong about what you think you know, can unnecessarily limit your imagination and ultimately, the functionality of your SCADA system.

What if...? 

What if you could get some help on the front end of the project.  What if a company that delivers world class SCADA systems and knows process engineering could be your technology partner?   What if you had someone who understands the current state of technology and has a clear vision of the future to stimulate your imagination on your team?  What if that company could  help you to develop and communicate requirements  at the beginning of the project and work with you through the end of the project.  What if you had an advocate who could interface with designers and builders to make sure that they delivered a system that met your expectations?

The Instrulogic Advantage 

Instrulogic is that technology partner.  We have a unique combination of process engineering, computer science, and measurement & control expertise enabling us to deliver world class SCADA.  We can help you imagine a system that cost effectively meets your current needs and positions you to leverage emerging technologies of the future.  We may even help you to obtain a system you didn’t not know was possible.   Our Human Centered Design Methodology will help you to communicate clearly and consistently with engineers and builders through all stages of the project plan.    We can be that expert member of your team to help you manage the entire project with a laser focus on delivering a system that meets or exceeds your expectations. 

We can help you begin with a happy and successful end in mind.   Let us do what we do so well, so that you can do what you do, better! 

I want a happy ending for my plant upgrade

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Ray Cowell