The internal upgrade projects are part of Optima’s sustained effort to bring customer downtimes to a minimum and to improve customer support activities.
Optima Control Solutions, a team of independent automation experts, prides itself for being up to date with modern computing technologies such as cloud computing and virtualization. The company has recently initiated a very pronounced change in its I.T. infrastructure. Alastair Fay, Optima’s IT manager facilitating this change, talks to Hristina Stefanova about the upgrades that he has undertaken since 2011.
[Tell me about the two I.T. upgrade projects currently happening at Optima?]
A: The first project is a complete refresh of the entire I.T. infrastructure. We have two new main computers for back-up and each engineer has his own work station. The second project will be realized later this year – a complete switch to a new engineering design software package.
[What are the benefits of upgrading the infrastructure?]
A: Our business critical information and data equipment has been running 24/7 for the past few years. We have a massive investment in the infrastructure and the actual data. If a component fails and takes 3 weeks to be replaced, we will be out of action for the whole period. The new equipment we have just bought has a strong supporting 5-year warranty, which includes a next day replacement part service. So business continuity is a big benefit, not just keeping the business rolling but also meeting the deadlines set by our customers.
The new computer systems are considerably faster, so again, our engineers are able to work on a project more efficiently. Our investment is made in order that we can remain competitive and with a ROI realised through these efficiency gains.
The system will support much more virtual technology, allowing our engineers to work on projects with a wider variety of software tools concurrently. This will also mean that we can improve the support response times if a customer calls with a question concerning some previous project, because our engineer will be able to find out the required information much more quickly.
[The hardware upgrade is followed by the introduction of a new CAD system. Can you tell me more about it?]
A: Indeed, during the last quarter of 2011 we decided to source a more up-to-date CAD system that would improve the engineering design process. In Q1 2012 we will employ ePlan’s P8 electric design solution. The new system will greatly improve the standard and quality of the documentation we provide to our customers.
A valuable additional benefit for customers is the facility for us to supply an intelligent PDF drawing set containing the circuit schematics with embedded hyperlinks to both the datasheets for the field devices and their position on the panel layout diagrams. This will streamline maintenance engineering times.
[To sum it up, how are Optima’s customers going to feel the difference?]
A: The whole infrastructure renewal and CAD system deployment will ensure we deliver projects faster and competitively and customers should see reduced downtimes from the improved documentation system both of which ultimately save them money.
Reducing our own potential downtimes translates into time efficiencies for them as well as improved customer support.