3D-P works with a diverse, wide variety of clients – large to small, quarries to mines to airports, located all over the world – and during my tenure it has been very interesting to note both the differences, and commonalities between the clients and the diverse solutions we employ.
For example, no matter the industry, we can always apply the 3D-P pillars of successful network design:
- Understand the environment – geographically, culturally, and technologically
- Design for the application – now, and for the future
- Bring the best solution forward – best for the customer, not for us
Those are the common pillars we can use to build a stable, high-performing network for any customer, regardless of their size, industry, or application. The conversation then becomes one that can be different for every customer:
How can they best, most cost-effectively support that network?
“How Will You Support Your Network?”
For many of our customers, this is an easy question, and one that is simple on the surface. Most customers will opt to take one of a very few paths:
- Using their existing team
- In-sourcing a dedicated team
- Partnering with a trusted resource
Using Your Existing Team
Frequently, our customers have some level of IT or OT support available to them, and it is a natural assumption that this team can take on the workload of what is – on the surface – a natural extension of their existing networks.
While many of our clients have very capable teams supporting their core networks, it is very rare that many of them have teams used to supporting professional industrial production networks. There are a great number of niche skills and technologies that need to be learned to effectively manage a high-performing network.
These skills and technologies are trainable, at a basic level, but the cost of training your existing staff in these areas – both in terms of time and money – can add up very rapidly. However, there is another aspect that can’t be easily trained – experience and depth of expertise. Even with training, existing staff will not have the opportunity to develop the same field knowledge from exposure to diverse networks that experienced technicians draw on to solve complex problems when they arise. It’s also rare that existing teams truly have the bandwidth to take on this level of training in addition to their core duties, and in our experience this leaves networks neglected, and existing teams overloaded and overwhelmed. So while customers often look at using their existing teams as a cost saving measure, the true cost to the organization is complex and often significantly more involved than the money saved.
In-Sourcing a Dedicated Team
Hiring a dedicated team is the next logical step. For most of our customers, this means forming a distinct and separate Operational Technology (OT) department or similar, and staffing it with experienced technicians who can oversee the maintenance and management of the network.
While there are circumstances and customers whose situations make this option represent the best value, those customers are most often corner cases where economies of scale make the option have a higher ROI than average. The base cost of a single dedicated employee is often considered, but providing for management, benefits, vacations, redundancy, and liability becomes an incredibly expensive endeavour if there is not a large enough organization to assume those costs..
Additionally, managing OT and production networks is not a core competency of most of our customers — it is a distraction from the things that they do best. There will always be a struggle for that level of support to maintain relevant and cost-effective outside of a company’s core competencies.
Partnering with a Dedicated Resource
Partnering with a resource like 3D-P is the best of all worlds for a large majority of our customers. Network design, deployment, support and management are our core competencies. Since 1996, 3D-P has been designing, deploying, and supporting complex and highly performing networks in some of the harshest and most competitive production environments in the world. Our Support, Managed Services, and Professional services offerings allow you to scale accordingly and affordably extend the ability of your current team without upping their workload. Alternatively, our Managed Services and Network-as-a-Service options can act as your local network team, and take the place of a dedicated team. Our services and support offerings are made to allow you to do what you do best.
If you are interested in a consultation, or for more information about 3D-P’s Support or Service products, please contact us!