From small beginnings in his garage, Claudio Agostinetto quickly grew Systems Automation & Management (SAM) into a multi-branch company that now occupies several buildings in Johannesburg, Durban, Saldanha, Richards Bay, Windhoek and Denmark.
Since launching the company in June 1988, the team has employed a number of strategic plans that have firmly solidified SAM’s reputation in the market. The first notable business decision was the establishment of a workshop to wire and test panels, allowing the company to provide quality assurance and identify any faults early in the process. In addition, a specialised machine building division was developed for the building of laser diamond cutting and polishing machines.
The team has grown to over 80 people, with fluctuations in numbers occurring when projects are being executed. The majority of the staff, with the exception of five administration and 10 workshop employees, are all technically oriented.
“We have invested a substantial amount in project management and quality tools which allow us to execute large and small projects and we employ a full time quality assurance manager to ensure that all our systems and projects run smoothly,” says Agostinetto.
SAM provides a complete basket of electrical, control and instrumentation solutions, as well as undertaking electronic board development and design for the manufacture of specialised machines.
One of the elements contributing to the company’s success, claims Agostinetto, is the ability to develop products that are outside the traditional SI business, but which clearly complement the business model. An example of this far-sightedness is the development of the interfaces to legacy process computers and DCSs in order to extend the life of these systems. SAM has developed interfaces to ABB Praut process and Siemens Sicomp M 70 process computers, ABB P13 Bus, Siemens, GE Bus, and S5 rack interface cards for the Sicomp M70.
“Out of this process, the Visual Automation Historian product evolved and was later sold to Siemens for its TCCP 3000 DCS. We have also developed drivers for InterBus, Profibus and interfaced Motorola GPS to the InterBus system for accurate time stamping. We recently developed GeyserWorx for powering geysers using photovoltaic panels,” says Agostinetto.
Other notable achievements include the development of RemoteWorx for MTN connections using the cellular infrastructure for which the company became the proud recipient of the MTN award in 2015. SAM has also developed the EMDAS (energy metering and data acquisition system) for Eskom which is deployed at most of the utility’s power stations. Furthermore, the Simatic S5/S and CPU call X5/X7 allows one to upgrade Simatic S5 PLC systems to the latest Simatic S7 systems with Ethernet.
The company is an agent for ABB, Siemens, Schneider, Rockwell, GE and Mitsubishi and is one of the few Siemens PCS7 certified systems integrators. SAM is also a Schneider and GE certified systems integrator, a DEKRA ISO 9001 certified company and has a CIDB 7EP. The company is a Phoenix Contact panel builder using Rittal panels and holds the sole agency for Reivax from Softing.
The company’s training portfolio includes product and plant specific modules for clients and product and system specific training for employees. Employees are also sent to overseas shows like the Hannover Fair and SPS to gain a greater understanding of current trends and technology.
A number of recent large projects undertaken by the company include the Transnet Richards Bay port upgrade from Simatic S5 to Simatic S7; the De Beers Venetia mine upgrade from Simatic S5 to Simatic S7; various Amplats PCS7 projects/upgrades; and the upgrading of the Kelvin Power Station boiler controls.
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