Sep 30, 2022

Considering a Switch in Automation Partners? Here’s a 4-Step Process

Not satisfied with your automation partner? We’ve outlined a four-step process to help you navigate a switch for your facility.

Choosing an automation company to put controls into your facility is not only an upfront capital expense but also a long-term partnership decision. While the initial installation and start up is one part of the relationships, ongoing service and support are also a significant part of the relationship as well. Unfortunately, sometimes partnerships don’t work out or expectations aren’t met. Whether you are fully committed to switching automation partners or simply browsing new options, this three-step process will help you gather the information you need to make the best decision for your facility.

Four-Step Process for Switching Automation Partners

  1. When’s the Right Time?
  2. List Pain Points or Unmet Expectations
  3. Research and Vet Possible Partners
  4. Service and Support Offerings
4 Step Process Image

1. When’s the Right Time?

There are two opportunities we typically see the biggest opportunity to switch, and they are: 1) your current system is out of date and needs to be replaced or 2) you are considering making significant changes to your facility such as adding or changing several pieces of equipment. If your facility is coming up on one of these two milestones, critically evaluate your current automation partner and explore your options. We don’t recommend changing just for changes sake. It doesn’t often make sense in terms of return on investment. If you are not happy with your current automation partner, make a change before committing to another 10+ years with your current provider.

2. List Pain Points or Unmet Expectations

Before you reach out to other automation partners, take the time to sit down with your team and get clarity around pain points and unmet expectations. Create a written, physical list of these problems that you can share with potential partners. This list can consist of functionalities of the system – features you want to improve, wish you had, or things that just aren’t working. The list can also have topics relating to service and support, technician interactions, and overall partnership challenges. We recommend sharing this list with your current automation partner to allow them to make good on any of these items. But you will know when it is time to make a change.

3. Research and Vet Possible Partners

Once you have your list of pain points or non-negotiables, send it directly to your candidates and have specific conversations about each bullet on that list. If it relates to the controls program itself, request a demo of that specific functionality or visit another facility who is using that control system to see it working there. The best way to ensure you have a better partnership with the next automation company is to have honest and open communication around what is not working and how expectations can be met going forward. It’s better to figure out if the partnership isn’t going to work in the exploration phase for both parties involved.

4. Service and Support Offerings

Learn the ins and outs of your potential automation partner’s service and support offering. While this is often discussed after a deal is done, this is arguably just as important as the initial install. When your facility is down or not able to make feed because of automation, you need a partner that will be there to fix the problem as soon as possible. Ask questions related to call-back times, after-hour support, holiday charges and availability, on-site troubleshooting, or remote service. The biggest question – are they going to be there when you need them? Don’t forget about this important step in the vetting process.

This four-step process will help you get started in exploring a new automation partner. As you explore, one last item to consider – where is this company going to be in 10-15 years? Are they going to be able to grow with your facility and meet your needs in the coming years? Choosing a partner that has similar vision or shared values around growth will only strengthen the partnership long term.

Interested in switching automation partners? Contact our team at Easy Automation to discuss your goals and together we can determine what options make sense for you and your specific facility. Visit easy-automation.com or call 507-728-8214 and ask for our sales team. We value your partnership and look forward to solving your equipment and automation challenges with you.

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