Tips for Writing an RFP (Request For Proposal) for Custom Automation Solutions

July 9, 2020 - Author: Paul Enger, Director, Business Development

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systems integrator company, system integrator companies

As a systems integrator company for custom automation solutions, we often hear from clients that they struggle to evaluate proposals and select an automation supplier because it’s like comparing “oranges-to-apples.” Proposals from integrators are unlike each other in many ways with little or no consistency among offered automation solutions.

End users can better set up their projects for technical and commercial success by writing a more complete Request For Proposal (RFP) that ensures scope elements are not omitted. Then, competing proposals can be evaluated in a more straightforward manner with an “apples-to-apples” comparison.

ACS, an automation system integrator, often reviews RFP documents on a client’s behalf or is directly responding to new RFPs released for projects. Thus, we offer the following considerations and questions to address when developing RFPs:

Clearly define the scope and lines of responsibility:

  • What is expected of the custom automation solution supplier, from other systems suppliers, and from the end user?
  • Are there specific scope elements that are absolutely required and others that are optional?

Identify and provide detailed existing facility constraints:

  • Are there physical size requirements for installation into an existing footprint?
  • Is the facility limited in electrical power, cooling water or compressed air capacity?

Spell out your company’s specific preferences and requirements:

  • Are there internal machine and process safety or ergonomic standards which must be met?
  • Are there company preferences for component hardware and software manufacturers?

Describe the product being manufactured and tested:

  • How much product variation is expected?
  • Is design-protection for future products needed?

Provide details of other systems that need to be integrated:

  • How is data transmission and storage handled within the machine and then at the facility?
  • What physical connection points to upstream and downstream systems are required?

Our goal is to provide clients with a complete and comprehensive proposal for an “apples-to-apples” comparison and ultimately to be their supplier of choice. I welcome the opportunity to learn about your application. If you are currently developing your requirements for a new automation project, please don’t hesitate to contact ACS.


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