About seven years ago, I paid a visit to a company located in Lancaster, New York. The name of the company is Performance Advantage Company (PAC). In many ways, this company is an integrator for the fire service. It devises solutions for fire departments specifying fire apparatus to accommodate equipment on the rigs. The company was led for many years by its founder, Dick Young, a well-known character in the fire service not only for his wit but also for his innovative approaches to equipment mounting solutions. A former apparatus manufacturer himself, he was well equipped to devise ways for fire departments to mount their equipment on their fire trucks.
During my visit, I asked Young about how his company comes up with its solutions. Specifically, I asked about how often the company heard from fire departments with specific requests. His answer was that few had their genesis in fire department requests. “We sit, and we dream,” he told me. I’m not sure what made me think of that interaction recently. But, I noted how stark a contrast it is compared with systems integrators for vision and imaging systems.
Systems integrators are the critical bridge between end users and the manufacturers and OEMs that provide the products integrators put together to create solutions for their customers. The big difference between them and PAC is that their customers come to them with very specific problems that require solutions, and the integrator must analyze the situation to come up with the answer. Time and time again we ask integrators and end users about challenges they encounter and how they overcome them when it’s time to install the solution. There is not as much sitting and dreaming up solutions to problems that don’t exist yet for most integrators. Every application is different and comes with its own specific challenges.
Since I came on board, I’ve been very interested in hearing from systems integrators and about the challenges they run into on a daily basis as customers approach them with problems to solve and the approaches they take to devising solutions. Although we devote a great deal of space to the end user challenges and the end products that systems integrators implement to solve the problems, I’m interested in what happens before installation when an integrator first gets started on the problem.
Systems integrators, what are the common issues you run into right at the outset of a vision system build? What are some of your best stories for what looked like disasters but became your shining moments? Feel free to drop me a line any time. I’d love to discuss them with you.