Providing trusted data solutions means shaping, designing, deploying and maintaining software systems which include smart connected devices, traditional control systems and information from anywhere inside or outside the enterprise. Trusted data solutions is also about linking devices to users without them requiring any intimate knowledge about device connections, protocols and engineering standards.
Trusted data is a forerunner to better systems. Better systems is about simplifying and improving how we manage something. This could mean fewer routine activities for humans, increased autonomy for humans (who can be reassigned to more important tasks) and better information to base strategies upon. We build these systems to help customers with their business goals and compliance obligations.
Solution Scope & Innovation
Parasyn solutions range from small-scale boutique applications through to major enterprise integration including IoT solutions. This could include the development of specialised drivers and enhancements to vendor off-the-shelf products to complete the full enterprise solution. Whatever the size of requirement or problem to be solved we will take a Systems Engineering approach to managing the requirements. Part of this approach may include assessing the impact of the requirements on the enterprise, understanding what innovation may be required to achieve particular outcomes, defining what steps need to be accomplished to improve operational performance, change management and highlighting what process intelligence information is required to achieve specific business performance.
What are your Industries?
Supporting major critical infrastructure companies, Parasyn customers operate water, gas, power and transportation assets using a blend of SCADA, Control Systems, Enterprise Information Systems, Process Optimisation technologies and IoT. Advanced applications include predictive analytics and model predictive control technologies.
Sustainable low-cost production and efficient asset operation is possible with today’s technologies, and the need to get this right the first time doesn’t have to cost you more; it just requires some clever thinking.
With the right process information, asset operators can make critical decisions that will yield long term paybacks. There is no “quick fix” or shortcut to operating assets efficiently. You need good information at the fingertips of knowledge workers to stay on top of maintenance strategies, unexpected production requirements, emergency support requirements and digital transformation strategies.
What makes a good systems integrator?
It takes years to be competent with hi-tech products, complex management process and engineering practice. Like many things in life, if you remain focused for long enough and invest the effort, make some mistakes and learn from those mistakes, you increase your chances of being excellent or superb in your chosen domain. In a volatile technology environment, to have staff change too frequently is not only disruptive for client relationships and current projects or service, but it places the organisation into the retraining loop and is a very real risk and cost to operations. Of course, this is not a concern at all if what you offer customers is a commodity and your support is canned and requires limited consideration.
When research, multi discipline experience and collaboration is required to form an opinion as to what to do next (profession advice or design), it is more than cookie cutting that is required and the situation demands the right people.
The greatest challenge for knowledge companies is how to attract and retain the right staff and how to have effective collaboration because all knowledge doesn’t reside in one brain. The collective brain or knowledge repository is also only half the story as it needs to be organised and applied against a desired outcome. Culture is part of this story, variety is part of it, autonomy to match the individual is part of it and opportunities to learn and contribute are fundamental to all of it.
How do I safely choose a systems integrator?
Without going so far as to name systems integrators we know, this is what we think about the criteria to decide. For IS’s with substance, we suggest:
- They learn new technology on an ongoing basis – they invest
- Their delivery model is beyond labour hire (recruitment house)
- They have a stable group of staff, which provides continuity of ideas, concepts, strategy and foundational knowledge
- They contribute to the engineering community at large including training their staff or enhancing how services are delivered to customers. This is closely related to how their staff contribute as individuals to their professional communities.
- They are ethical
Who are your competitors?
It’s not hard to find some form of answer to this question using LinkedIn or Google, however, to compare apples with apples, we add the following context.
In the more commodity-based areas of plant controls and SCADA we have many competitors. In the area of specialist skills, ie enterprise solutions, software development and business application integration there are few that operate in this space. In more general terms, the easiest way to define who main competitors are without using a complex categorisation method is to answer the question with another question. The question is; which organisations, other than recruiters, head hunt our talent?
We don’t really compete with infrastructure companies who have a controls system department or internal industrial automation capability because they generally do not invest heavily in digital technology or design high end enterprise solutions as do specialist Systems Integrators. Infrastructure companies rightly focus on single project delivery. For “build, own and operate” contracts, simple is usually best. This supports easy handover and transference between asset operators who may change jobs more regularly than operators employed by a utility (or an end user asset owner).
The final group of competitors is our vendors. Some vendors, not all, determine to compete with their channel partners. Sometimes end users insist on only “doing business” with the vendor with the strategy to “keep the vendor honest” which forces some vendors to bypass their channel partners. These are all important considerations when selecting a service provider. The most important overarching principle of successful support and project delivery is the delivery model, management of that model, brand promise, culture and commitment to outcomes. These principles are much more than brochureware or statements during a discussion to “close the deal of a lifetime”. What is important in delivering technology is success habits of planning, design, testing, daily collaboration and full accountability from the first conversation to the last. This is how we believe organisations should be measured rather than by categorisation, personal relationships or even accreditation.
If you really want to define who our competitors are, ask our customers! They will best understand why they select us and why they also sometimes select others to deliver particular services for specific reasons. Their requirements and how they have made selections can save you time and most importantly, avoid the heartache. We understand we may not always be chosen, but we are delighted when we are selected for all of the right reasons. Being chosen for the wrong reasons may be exciting today, like winning the lottery, but it doesn’t produce long term happiness.
Designing systems with the entire enterprise in mind ensures that the solution has interoperability with other business applications. Our aim is to “land” the right data in the right place, packaged to conform with standards.
A thorough approach to deployment of enterprise systems would normally include consideration for existing data and inputs, transitioning information from legacy to new system storage (industrial data lake), signification scheduling and planning to ensure stakeholder change management, procurement of hardware and software that meet enterprise standards or to set new benchmarks, consultancy to discover business requirements when they are unknown or loosely defined, development and configuration management, formal documentation at all stages of design, development, testing and transitioning, lifetime maintenance of the system to ensure sustainability when this is required and effective handover including continuous evaluation of performance and areas for improvement.
The control system silo and enterprise management systems no longer need to live separate lives. With modern technologies, work order creation, asset & ERP performance tracking and artificial intelligence all work toward reduced operating costs, better scheduling for planned maintenance, reduction in downtime and early warning detection of plant failures. This can be done without customised code and in an environment that your team or a trusted partner can manage. This technology leverages Condition Based Monitoring (CBM) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications.
Compliance Reporting & Data Analysis
Governments and regulatory bodies have been steadily increasing their demand for more accurate, validated and timely data. Organisation Compliance Reporting & Data Analysis requirements have therefore naturally become increasingly important as deregulation and privatisation takes a hold across the globe. Managing assets holistically according to how the business manages the asset and not how the operations group repairs and maintains the asset, no longer needs to be mutually exclusive. Technology now delivers high speed data acquisition, abstracted data structures which fit your asset model, mega storage, caching of enterprise KPI and performance management information. This means that at all levels of the organisation the appropriate information is presented for users. This no longer means different systems for different work groups. Those days are over.
Parasyn designs and implements ICT infrastructure to augment with or replace existing systems. The correct specification and selection of computer equipment and support services is an essential element for business sustainability.
- Virtual Infrastructure & Hosting
- Cloud Integration & Hosting
- VLAN (Virtual LAN)
- Routers / End Point devices / Managed Switches
- Server and Desktops
- Domain Admin (Active Directory)
- Disaster Recovery and Data Centres
However, Information Systems Infrastructure is not limited to ICT infrastructure and Tools designed to host information and raw asset data. It includes IoT devices, enterprise data interfaces, local data warehouses, third party hosted systems or file-based information exchange and any other bespoke data type that may require API (customised) access. Optimised management of SCADA & Automation Systems means tight integration with the enterprise business infrastructure. Parasyn presents the platform to bridge the control system to the business. The Integrated Data Platform (IDP) provides an information gateway to standardise the way users consume process information when the data sources change. This change may be the result of upgrades, replacement or new devices. An appropriate IDP also means that the solution can be future proofed including when legacy systems were based on poor or inconsistently applied engineering standards.
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition is the fundamental operational software tool for managing control system assets. PLCs & RTUs are used to control critical assets and report operational status which help improve performance.
A well-designed Human Machine Interface makes viewing, understanding and interpreting your data a breeze. A design which includes situational awareness is said to increase operator performance by as much as 30%.
SCADA system data is not structured or organised the same way other systems transaction data is organised. For one, the volume of data generated by a typical SCADA system is significantly larger than other enterprise software systems. To simplify integration to Enterprise Information Systems, best practice is to have rigid design management and coding standards to ensure all devices and alarm management practice is uniformly applied. This ensures the system is implemented with safety in mind. This is particularly important on very large systems where areas of the system are managed by different operators. Parasyn designs and implements enterprise SCADA systems and improves legacy systems to optimise performance.
IT Networks, Communications Systems, Electrical Interfaces and Control Cabinets are the physically configurable building blocks of a system. More complex devices include PLCs and RTUs. Basic devices include IoT and data loggers.
We design systems, configure and supply telecommunications equipment and cabinets including PLCs, RTUs and instrumentation. We augment IoT devices into systems directly from the device or sometimes via a data gateway.
Sometimes the hardware infrastructure is provisioned by others or networks are outsourced. Our role in these cases is to provide design and management advice to maintain the integrity of the system. The system could be enterprise wide or plant based.
The selection of devices on very large systems is a critical task. Evaluation including performance trials are an essential process to provide assurance that large network hardware costs are minimised over the lifecycle of the solution.
Problems Solving – What do you fix?
Designing systems and problem solving requires flexibility. We recognise the need to have a rigorous process to ensure quality when flexibility and creativity is applied. Our people are problem solvers and solution designers. They are not the same thing. We have found that collaboration is a key element to effective problem solving. The need to clarify an issue, to justify a resolution approach and then work against agreed measurable steps all contribute to increased performance. This isn’t because people are driven harder to solve problems as pressure can often be an inhibitor to the creativity required to solve complex problems. It is more about the process of thinking at a deeper level and being more thorough as peers jointly invest in their support to problem resolution or they join in “”hands on””. Either way, we have found that when there is a problem to solve, calling a “”timeout””, assembling the right people and developing a justified “”what next”” plan saves reputation, saves time, saves money, saves face and fixes problems. This approach requires a degree of humility to have others contribute to “”your problem”” and discipline to stick to the plan and then report the results on time, no matter what!
To give you an idea of the diversity of problems we solve, we have provided this very short list. This list is by no means comprehensive. It is just a glimpse to highlight diversity.
- 24/7/365 breakdown support could be about software, instrumentation issues, peculiar process problems, bad data, just about anything that looks out of the ordinary.
- Fix device integration issues where devices are supposed to communicate but do not. This device communication may be partially working or not at all.
- Consult to develop a new strategy to use technology to improve operations and reduce costs. The end result would be a scoping document, recommendations on what next or practical guidelines on how to transition from today to a desired future state.
- Testing and documenting an existing or new system to establish a system QA baseline. This is similar to auditing, whereas auditing is often restricted to inspection rather than operating.
- Data migration; taking old data and transforming it to merge into new software systems. This may include a measure of quality checks to improve the usefulness of reusing historical data. It may including add better context (metadata) so that users are better informed about how to consume the data with higher levels of confidence.
- Transition planning to ensure operational integrity is maintained on existing systems particularly for critical applications.
- Upgrade a technology platform or work out why an upgrade didn’t work 100%. These can be mountains to climb with the complexity of operation system environments we now use.
- Doing design for something that has not been done before. This is so different to reusing an approach previously done and simply changing the parameters. It is a deep-thinking process which is also creative and can be risky. Odd as this may seem, not many people design, and very, very few do systems design where the macro environment is fully considered as part of this deep thinking. In many respects, design is solving a complex problem, if the designer understands how the design is to help the business.
- Reducing the number of nuisances alarms an operator has to face and improving the quality of alarm notifications. Solving these types of problems is just as much about process improvement as technology configuration. So many operators suffer poorly operating systems because there was no master plan for alarm and event management. Out of the box, this is usually a disaster (a problem) for someone to solve.
- Decide which technology to use for a particular application. This may include RTUs, PLCs, SCADA, Advanced Software applications, IoT devices, protocols, telecommunications devices and ICT infrastructure. Cloud technology is becoming more popular, is great for some, and not permitted by others. Sometimes a hybrid model is the “right” solution.
Our wider challenge is overcoming business constraints through intelligent technology solutions without using technology for the sake of it. Keeping up with all the technology trends might be cool but being on the bleeding edge of technology can end up being a pointless and uncomfortable place to be. Foresight rather than oversight means a holistic design, not just bleeding edge technology. Being able to see the whole picture is important to us.