The 21st Century Systems Integrator.


It is no secret that manufacturing is suffering from a shortage of skilled workers. Over the next 10 years, demand will create the need for 4.6 million jobs--over half of which risk going unfilled. To handle manufacturing's digital transformation, the shortfall in qualified workers needs to be addressed. Here, Andy Marshall, Technical Manager at systems integrator Boulting Technology discusses how the role of systems integration is changing and what is expected of the 21st century systems integrator.

Systems integration has always been something of a complex operation. Their expertise brings together component subsystems ensuring that software, hardware, networking and storage products from multiple vendors are integrated safely. With rapidly changing client needs and technological advances, integrators need an in-depth understanding of how to provide solutions and meet the outcomes clients want to improve their business.

Thirty or so years ago, information for protocols and software was not so accessible, standards were unevolved and the landscape for integrators very different.

Now, the landscape is unrecognisable with manuals and information for software packages held on the internet, rapid connectivity as well as consistent standards and protocols.

Technically speaking

With a range of technology at our fingertips, systems integration has had to develop to keep pace. Born between 1994 and 2004, Generation Z has never known a world that isn't surrounded by technology. The question is, how will this digital proficiency aid a short-skilled industry?

For the modern integrator, the world appears to be their oyster. As client bases extend across the globe, integrators need to access systems and support customers no matter where they are located. As today's manufacturers seek to enhance their Maintenance, Repair and Operation programs (MRO), remote monitoring and diagnostics are commonplace in system design.

Visualising instructions

No longer confined to the realms of video gaming and design, augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) are increasingly prominent in industry. In 2017, the government's Made Smart Review identified AR and VR as key disruptors that will boost productivity in manufacturing.

With complicated equipment that often involve hundreds of discrete components integrated into one object or device, AR provides the opportunity to superimpose information, drawings and instructions onto a worker's field of vision using a pair of...

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