An environmental control system is much more than just the hardware you see mounted on the wall. It is an element of your operation that you will rely upon to control your equipment for many years. Reliable and knowledgeable customer support is essential to ensure an ideal performance of your control system.
Greenhouse Management: Why is service an important element to consider while selecting a controls system?
Richard Miller: Environmental control systems can be complex and include many different variables that interact with each other. A grower should focus on the product he is growing and not on worrying about the performance of his controls system. Therefore, having a system that is well-supported is a must. A grower should select a system that meets their needs and includes the necessary support structure to ensure the equipment operates efficiently and reliably.
GM: What service attributes should be considered when selecting an environmental control system?
RM: In my opinion, there are three very important elements to consider when assessing the service level of the system you are considering for your operation: 1. Availability and connectivity of the support; 2. Application knowledge of the support staff; and 3. Reliable hardware.
GM: Why do you consider availability and connectivity important factors when it comes to servicing an environmental control system?
RM: I think these two elements are important for a couple of reasons. First, large controls systems companies sell their product around the world, which means support in different time zones and, secondly, plants need attention all the time and emergencies could occur at any time regardless of if it is a weekend or very early in the morning. For example, at Argus Controls, we are available 24 hours a day all year long to attend critical emergencies as they arise.
GM: You mentioned 24/7 service is important. Do you think the level of knowledge of the staff, regardless of the time or day of the consultation, is as relevant?
RM: Yes. I do believe it is important for the entire support team to have a high level of application knowledge. This means not only to know the software and hardware inside out, but also the application that the equipment is being used for. In our case, we ensure that Argus Controls’ on-call staff has the same technical level of those available during regular business hours. All our specialists are able to connect remotely to any system in any part of the world to diagnose and resolve the problem, at any time.
GM: How does having reliable hardware affect the level of service expected?
RM: By having a robust, reliable hardware platform, most support issues can be handled remotely minimizing — and even eliminating — expensive site visits. Argus Controls puts a lot of effort into designing hardware that is durable, protected from the environment, and — in most cases — easy to replace by the user. This ensures maximum uptime with a reduced maintenance cost.