When working on your first automation project, you would like to get everything right, taking all the proper steps. However, many times, automation teams run into some roadblocks in their haste.
If you want to avoid some common automation mistakes, you probably wonder what not to do in your first automation project.
Let's take a look at some things to avoid so that you have fewer—or no—problems and delays and how working with a knowledgeable integrator can help you steer clear of them.
Not building an automation team or receiving input
Ideally, you will have the resources to build an automation project team while working with a knowledgeable integrator. Even if it is your solo project as an automation engineer, or you only have another engineer or two assisting at various points, you will benefit from reaching out for input from management and other eventual automation users in the organization. It is easier to find bugs and better workarounds during the building process than to correct them once you complete the project.
Neglecting to establish your project framework
Understanding why you are starting your automation project, and its ultimate goal is critical to your project's success. Meet with the project initiators, such as your executive staff, to learn and ensure that you understand the specific business and competitive context for automation. This information provides context and lets you and your automation team establish the framework to create the right automation for your organization.
Not developing a detailed strategy
One frequently cited barrier to success in starting and proceeding with automation projects is the lack of creating a clear strategy and setting priorities. Before starting the project, meet with an integrator, organizational leadership representatives, project leaders, and team members to document and schedule your procedure, vision, key performance indicators (KPIs), and critical success factors. Present your end goal and your automation project budget, and outline regular, achievable, and measurable project milestones to mark progress and keep everyone motivated.
Limiting or concentrating the scope
It's important to ensure that the scope of your project is scalable since, in most cases, it will expand. You will experience a "do it all under fire" situation that inflates your project budget without allowing for expansion. Even worse, it will likely decrease the effectiveness of the automation project's goals.
Lack of scrutiny of definitions and details
With automation projects, you need to work within the language and process of automation, ensuring you and everyone else understand the definitions and details. It is easy for people to assume that standard terms apply in the same way. Unfortunately, such assumptions often lead to mistakes and missed deadlines. Even the most qualified programmers and engineers need specific direction for each project.
Automation engineers, or project leaders, need to have proficiency in key areas they can readily explain to their team, including:
Accuracy of sensors
Types of signals
Loop calibration methods
Automatic protections, parameters, and set points
In some ways, this tip goes beyond defining and establishing details. It is crucial that you scrutinize these details to keep the project on track for success.
Failure to start the project with an integrator
Many companies start automation projects by purchasing a hardware system, then hiring an integrator to learn and work with it. It is best to flip that process to ensure that you are working with a knowledgeable integrator to find a ready system or, even better, design and build a program specific to your project's goals.
Avoid These Common Errors to Ensure Success for Your First Automation Project
These are a few common errors that organizational and automation project leaders frequently make during their first automation projects. Hopefully, you can avoid these missteps to help ensure success for your first project and any others that follow.
To learn more about how project automation can help your company thrive, submit your contact information on our website located here: Prime Test Automation or call us at 561-912-9433 today. We've been helping companies like yours improve their efficiency—and bottom line—through automation since 2001.