I recently sat with a couple of our top project managers here at Optimation. The subject was project management: risk assessment and mitigation. Risk is a big deal here. Very often our clients hire us to help manage their project risk. This can come in the form of scope, schedule, or budget dimensions, each of which poses its own unique challenges to a client's ability to achieve their goals when undertaking capital projects.
Topics: Project Management
One of the relationships that has been foundational in Optimation’s growth and success over the years is the one we have with National Instruments. NI is the test, measurement, and control systems innovator based in Austin, Texas. For over a dozen years, Optimation has been a partner with NI. We have together been engineering, deploying, supporting, and training in innovative solutions based in the NI ecosystem. Applications range from medical device testing to very high-pressure test system design and fabrications, to custom programming and software design. Our clients have benefited from the combination of Optimation’s creative engineers and developers with NI’s state-of-the-art suite of open software, innovative solutions, and globally-sourced electronics and systems.
It strikes me, in recent days, that some of the most heated rhetoric is aimed at several “threats” to our American essence. That is: Russian hacking, class envy, and (gasp!) Automation! They stand accused of challenging our very democratic foundations, tearing us apart as a people and turning human beings into commodities and turning us one against the other.
A phrase that often gets used when projects go awry is "unintended consequences." On the surface it's a simple-enough statement, declaring that there were outcomes to some actions taken that (usually) ran counter to the intent of the project, and generally they were not desired. In other words, "some bad things happened that we did not expect."
Many companies employ systems of interconnected piping, pumps, accumulators, filters, heat exchangers, etc. and associated control systems to produce a specific set of conditions or products in a manufacturing or production process. Optimation specializes in this space, delivering such systems on skids or in pods for food, chemical, industrial coatings, or other products. Often these systems are designed and engineered to yield an environment for controlling processes using gases such as nitrogen or argon, etc. This requires use of specific technologies and materials, combined in such a way that they not only deliver the right pressures and volumes, but also employ the proper materials, fittings, piping, and valves. We also must consider the safety features that accompany such conditions in the presence of electricity which introduces a whole other set of risks.
It's that time of year when you look towards the end of the calendar in an attempt to squeeze whatever remaining capital can produce some effective results for your operations. Or you may be looking ahead to the new year, plotting and planning how to best tackle the most important and complex challenges facing your business.
Following the theme of small business and manufacturing, it's worth noting that the Rochester region in particular is exceedingly strong in these categories. Especially in the market segments of advanced manufacturing, photonics, and energy, upstate New York reigns.
Figure 1 Courtesy KPMG
A large segment of Optimation’s engineering, consulting, and fabrication business is for companies that provide services to firms conducting energy exploration, especially oil and natural gas. While we provide some programming and engineering work for the "energy" companies themselves, an even greater volume of work comes from the firms that fabricate, test, and deploy downhole tools, subsea instruments, and land-based exploration products.
Is that a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 in your pocket, or are you just on fire?
While political dramas and soap operas continue to swirl around us, there is also a great deal of commotion and energy in the smartphone market this week. Samsung has announced that after experiencing multiple design failures resulting in product "malfunctions" (phones catching fire), that product replacements will be halted, and product sales and production will be stopped indefinitely. The market responded by slashing $17 billion in value from the firm, an 8% drop. That's massive.
One of the biggest topics in business this year is big data and related analytics. Thousands of companies are rapidly investing heavily in these technologies and practices, knowing that they are core to accelerating their advancement and also just maintaining their market presence.