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Why industry should look to fully integrated all-in-one monitoring and control systems.
It goes without saying that when you buy industrial monitoring and control systems, you want them to last. However, it is often the case that when systems are purchased from third-party sellers, the relationship ends at the point of sale and ongoing support is minimal at best. Here Gary Bradshaw, director at remote monitoring specialist Omniflex, explores how buying whole solutions directly from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) protects investments by providing fully integrated solutions and reliable ongoing support.
Whether it be something like fire alarms and automatic door locks in a prison, or radiation monitors and local alarm annunciators in a nuclear power plant, integrating systems seems like a common sense approach to improving operational efficiency across a facility.
However, facilities managers often face a dilemma when it comes to purchasing monitoring and control systems — should they purchase all-in-one solutions directly from OEMs or should they buy different parts of the system individually from different suppliers?
Benefits of an all-in-one solution
Buying whole systems directly from the people that made them ensures that each part of the system works seamlessly with the rest. This means you do not need to worry about things like how your local alarm annunciators will interact with your top end supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system or if the annunciator in question is even compatible with your network infrastructure. Even questions like are you better off connecting your equipment over a cable network or a wireless one can be easily answered by opting for a fully integrated all-in-one solution.
This could be a case of installing all local area alarm annunciators and connecting them to the top end SCADA system using an industrial network. Then providing the top end monitoring system which can be used to consolidate all building systems into one easy-to-use interface. This can be used to monitor all incoming data across the facility, as well as produce reports including data trends and statistical analysis.
Ultimately, there are several key benefits for businesses that implement all-in-one solutions like this to handle all their networking, data capture and top end analysis needs. Crucially, it drastically lowers project costs and reduces any operational disruptions associated with implementing the solution compared to a traditional approach, where you would have different companies providing different parts of a solution. Furthermore, it is often the case that the ongoing support provided by OEMs is better than that provided by third-party sellers.
Protecting your investment
I regularly hear stories from people who have bought systems from third parties and found that they are unable, or unwilling, to provide the support needed to fix any issues that occur. This is rarely the case when buying from OEMs, who tend to take pride in ensuring that their systems do not let you down, often going the extra mile to get you back up and running if problems arise.
Furthermore, when dealing with OEMs, you can pick up the phone and speak directly to engineers with an intimate knowledge of your systems — in many cases this might even be the same engineers who put your systems together in the first place. The level of service this allows cannot be matched when dealing with third-party sellers who, despite any technical expertise they might have, simply won’t know your systems as well as the people who made them.
This is equally true when it comes to software support. In the event of a software bug, the people most likely to identify and fix the problem are the ones that wrote the software. This means that any problems that arise with your systems have the best possible chance of being fixed quickly and thoroughly to get you back up and running as soon as possible.
Ultimately, buying directly from OEMs helps to protect your investment by helping to keep you operational for longer and minimising any costly downtime.