The Importance of the Middle Man


This blog post was written by Roger Kredit.

The Middle Man

Who is the middle man in the ISA S95 Control Systems Standard? The middle man is the talented individual who designs, develops, and implements level 3 components of a controls solution. Each part of this process is important to developing the most successful solutions. The ISA-95 Standard was created to define the areas in a controls systems solution from the enterprise level down to the HMI, PLC, and panels that control equipment. Each level is an important part of a successful control system solution.

A great solution requires the control systems developer to do an excellent job on levels 2 and 1. Level 3 teams are key to this process too; this team must have the ability to coordinate as well as possess a thorough understanding of the controls focused team, who specialize in PLCs, I/O counts and instruments. Each team must also understand that data and running equipment are equally important. In turn, they need to be able to find the right person and get through the business systems requirements, needs, and capabilities.

The Glue

The level 3 teams are essentially the “glue” in a full control solution. When the controls team needs to get equipment set points, routing or item information from our local database, the level 3 team applies the “glue” to get that information to the PLC. When the business needs to provide operators with a schedule for receiving, loadout, processing or batching based on orders in the business system, the level 3 “glue” is required. The level 3 team must also decipher the information out of the business systems and organize all the pieces for the HMI to present to the operators.

When seeking methods of improving or updating a control solution, remember the value of the level 3 “glue.” It is often denied the attention it deserves, especially when working through a green field construction project; yet it is an important component of the project. Placing focus on the level 3 functionality of an existing system can also simplify operations by eliminating duplicate entries which can result in mistakes.

At Interstates, there are a variety of ways teams are utilized for certain projects. Some projects include handling levels 3, 2, and 1; while other projects may only require controls. Additionally, some projects may only require level 3 teams for completion. Many companies only provide level 3 components, which makes Interstates unique as we have strong, dedicated teams for levels 1 and 2, as well as level 3. There is a huge benefit to having teams that can handle ¾ of the levels of a controls solution as it allows Interstates to deliver functional and robust solutions for customers.