Autopro Blog

Why use a Local, Vendor Independent, System Integrator as your Main Automation Contractor (MAC)? [video]

January 17, 2017

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The MAC, or Main Automation Contractor, concept has been around for a number of years, and evolved from the need to take the automation or control system component outside of a large project, and have it managed by automation specialists.

In this video, Brent Senio, Operations Manager, discusses why a local, vendor independent, system integrator is the right choice to be the MAC on your project.

What is Autopro's definition of a Main Automation Contractor?

The Main Automation Contractor is “the single, accountable contractor who works as a client empowered representative to ensure effective interface between the project stakeholders (end client; engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies; vendors; and installation contractors) throughout the project lifecycle for the control system integration and implementation”.

With a large project, the automation is often a small piece of the overall project, but it is a critical component – once the plant is built, it has to be turned on. It is always on the critical path and it is a high risk item so there is value in pulling the automation scope out and involving companies that specialize in automation work.

Why a Local, Vendor Independent, System Integrator as your MAC?

First let’s look at the benefits of having a local company as your MAC. When we talk about local, what we’re trying to do is reduce risk, reduce rework and reduce overall cost of the project by catching things sooner. When you have a team that's all co-located in the same place, you don't have the time zone barriers, you don't have the logistics of setting up web meetings and flights etc., so having an integrated team definitely allows you to catch design issues sooner. You also get better alignment with operations groups while still making sure that you're falling within the constraints of the capital project group in terms of the cost schedule scope and quality.

The next part of that question is why vendor-independent. Control systems are very complex; there are a lot of vendors typically involved, and even with the base control system you often have other systems that tie into it.  A vendor independent company is able to talk to each of the vendors without there being the barriers of competitiveness, so if you are a vendor representing one company and you try to talk to your direct competitor obviously there are going to be barriers there that a vendor-independent system integrator won't encounter, which smooths the integration process for your project.

Finally let’s discuss the benefits of a system integration company as the MAC. The role of the system integrator is to pull all these pieces together. We’ve talked about all the different brands and that's why vendor independence is important, now you have to be the glue to pull it all together, and that’s where a system integrator provides value. The system integrator can be viewed as the finishing carpenter to a framer, which would be your EPC.  So when you have a large system, you get a system integrator in to make the system work optimally.

Autopro has been fortunate to be the MAC on a number of new capital projects, as well as major expansions and upgrades of existing facilities, so we have that experience to pull upon and leverage those past project successes for any future MAC contract that we get engaged with.

We definitely pride ourselves on being strong project finishers and believe our MAC approach reduces the risk. As we get closer to the end of the project, our value only increases.