System Architecture and Supplier Selection

The client needed expertise to bring clarity and objectivity to the decision-making process.

Client Challenges

agriculture7065-300px-cr.jpgTwo major manufacturing companies - one chemical and one agricultural - engaged in a joint venture for a new product.  A renewable resource is used to make biodegradable plastics, reducing dependence on petroleum and producing environmentally friendly products.  To make this new product, the joint venture designed an innovative production process.  An activity that became critical to the success of this plant was the selection of process automation architecture, systems, and suppliers.  This was complicated by the uniqueness of the process combined with the vast array of individual interests among the diverse parties involved.  Also, the size of the investment at risk made it critically important. Expertise was needed to bring clarity and objectivity to the decision-making process.

ARC Solution

ARC's role covered two areas. One role was an advisor providing expertise to the internal evaluation team. Another role was to provide an objective decision making process for supplier selection to the team.

Evaluation Team
A Senior Analyst from ARC became a member of the internal team.  A systems architecture was established that insured support of legacy systems and adaptability for future technologies.  Using expertise acquired over three decades, the analyst provided objectivity for resolution of issues. A simple but powerful example is asking the right questions at the right time during vendor presentations.  The analyst under-stood when a function was being oversold and simply asked for more information.  This allowed the team to be fully informed where needed and prevented possible inappropriate application of the supplier's products.

Supplier Selection Business Process
The process for understanding the application needs and mapping to the vendor's capabilities was critical to setting a strong foundation for the new plant's success.  ARC provided a proven business process that enabled step-by-step selection in a timely manner and without missing critical steps. With some oversimplification, the steps included:

  • Documentation of needs with weighting factors
  • Development of Plant System Architecture
  • Writing purchase specifications
  • Identifying and interviewing appropriate suppliers
  • Quantifying supplier capabilities to meet the specifications
  • Evaluation of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
  • Selection of suppliers

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