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Not all integrators are created equal

06 October 2023

George Thompson, chairman of the British Automation and Robotics Association (BARA) looks at how knowledge is power when it comes to integration expertise

If you have read my recent articles, you will remember that I feel that the system integrator plays the most important part in specifying an automated solution for your production challenges. I have explained that if you choose the right one, they will be able to provide an efficient solution that meets the agreed scope of supply. That being said, how do you know HOW to choose a reputable company that will deliver on their promises? Well, that is the tricky bit!

If only there was an independent body that could provide some suggestions based on defined set of criteria. Well that is exactly what the BARA System Integrators Certification Scheme is designed to accomplish! We have partnered with A3 Robotics, which is the BARA equivalent in the USA, to set the benchmark to evaluate the integrator's technical knowledge and safety practices and collaborated to agree a framework for certification here in the UK.

The scheme is designed to evaluate the integrator's knowledge of robots, controls architecture, best practices, and most importantly safety standards, which is far more than ‘just’ the Machinery Directives (Directive 2006/42/EC – also know as Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008: Great Britain) and CE Marking, as well as a myriad of other legislation that may apply depending on the application and/or solution.

Each of the Certified Integrators completes a 25-point self-assessment and, assuming they meet the required criteria, are then subjected to a formal audit. This audit is carried out by an independent auditor and follows a set process and covers areas such as their ISO certification status, customer service and reporting, safety training and risk assessment methodology, service and maintenance procedures, employee satisfaction, factory assessment test procedures and, most importantly, their processes around robot programming, engineering, controls, vision solutions and network capabilities.

The scheme is also not a ‘one and done’ audit; they will need to be recertified every two years. So if the solution provider is a BARA certified integrator, you can rest assured that they continually meet or exceed the high standards set by A3 / BARA.

Our aim is to ensure that end users of an automation solution can rest assured that the integrator will deliver the solution to a suitable standard. 

Please do not misunderstand our intent, there are large number of integrators that will deliver a very high-quality solution without being one of our Certified Integrators. The intent of the scheme is to help end users to be able to filter out the solution providers that may not follow the standards to the same level of those that provide high-quality solutions. After all – not all integrators are created equal, or so they say.

If you are an integrator, why not see if you can meet our exacting standards? Perhaps you are an end user looking for a solution provider but aren’t sure where to start? In either case there is more information available in the Integrator Certification area on the BARA web site.

If you would like to start your automation journey, but don’t know where to start – I would highly recommend visiting the BARA website below where we have outlined several topics under the Expert Advice section to give some initial information. Whilst you are there, why not register for our next Roundtable discussion. You could also watch some of our previous Roundtables again as there is likely to be just the information you have been searching for contained within the discussions.