Exploring Integration with OnPing: Part 1

Part 1: Trust and Integration

Case Study Preface

Exploring Integration with OnPing walks through the relationship between Plow developers and controls/systems integrators, as experienced through the OnPing platform. This series is focuses on developing integrators starting out in the industry, but we welcome new and experienced integrators alike to keep up with this series and give feedback on information provided. If you have some advice or experience to share with the automation community, reach out to us and share your story!

Part One of Exploring Integration with OnPing discusses the current state of the industrial automation market, the importance of trust in an unknown market, and how new integrators can leverage trust to foster a healthy environment for both Consumers and Developers of automation technology.


The information provided is extracted from integrator interviews and experiences developing the OnPing platform. 


The State of Automation

The industrial automation market continues to grow rapidly. Terms like Industry 4.0, Industrial Internet of Things, Cloud and Edge are becoming more common in the day-to-day vernacular of industry. Technology has grown more powerful in recent years and accessibility to new technologies increases daily. Leading the way for  reduced cost per unit of processing power and an industry wide focus on reducing complexity in automation technologies. These factors have played a vital role in bringing industrial automation into a new era.

Victories of Modern Automation

Today, the technical mountains preventing adoption of automation technology have largely been reduced to molehills with the arrival of Low-code and No-code development platforms, increased access to information and technical tutorials online, and reduced the cost of elementary tech – literacy (thanks, internet). Technology is simply easier to use today than ever before. Furthermore, technology can do things now that were previously impossible. 

The Role of Integrators

Integration Experts Connect Products and Consumers

As the automation market grows, the role of integrators has expanded proportionally. Integrator’s serve a vital function in the automation industry by simplifying the connection  between Users and Developers of automation technology. Integrators manage relationships with people and organizations. Where Ease-of-Use and accessibility initiatives have lowered the threshold for people to use technology, Integrators confirm the need for high level technical understanding is as important as ever before. 

Basic Roles

There are three basic entities in the automation marketplace that this article references. The basic description of each is:

Developer: Develops products for automation systems

Consumer: Has business processes that require automated solutions

Integrator: Tasked with connecting Developer solutions with Consumer problems, implementing a system design, and maintaining relationships from each part of the market.


From the Developer perspective, Integrators represent a method to access emerging pools in the automation market. A single independent Integrator may have dozens of relationships with businesses previously unknown to a Developer. With everyone shouting to be heard in the marketplace, Integrators that can identify products and services of high value, then create access for those solutions to Consumers are agents of growth for the industrial automation industry.

For Consumers new to the industry, Integrators are a trusted guide through a sea of available software products. Thousands of tech solutions exist in the automation marketplace. As the automation adoption curve matures, more companies will seek trusted problem solvers to provide solutions for automation systems. Reliable information becomes even more important with each new product that enters the market.

Integration services help fill the technical gap between what Consumers know about automation and the reality of automation needs. Ideally, Consumers relay problems and concerns to Integrators, who then process out the noise from marketing spin about products to provide trustworthy, actionable information about the available solutions. 

This process isn’t often discussed, but businesses are clearly familiar with it. According to Statistica, approximately $394 billion was spent on system integrations in 2017. The ability of Integrators to connect past and future systems is clearly a critical component of success for many organizations. Much of this value is generated through trust. Businesses trust Integrators to solve problems.  

Platforming Automation: How to Balance to New with the Old

Relationship Summary of the Integration Process

So far, we’ve outlined a basic relationship between Developers, Integrators, and Consumers. It can be roughly summarized as:

  • Consumers present challenges requiring automation solutions
  • Developers produce solutions in the form of products or services
  • Integrators connect the solutions with appropriate challenges. 

There is, of course, much more nuance than this summary implies – we’ll explore relationships in more detail in future posts – but for our purposes we can work with this outline. 

OnPing: A Platform for Problem Solvers in Integration

Earlier, we discussed the importance of Trust in relationships between Consumers and Integrators. Basically, Consumers trust Integrators to solve problems. Integrators use a host of tools and resources to find solutions for the Consumer – and are challenged not to become complacent and stagnant. 

One way Integrators can minimize the risk of stagnancy is to work with highly communicative Developers who care about the principles of automation more than selling a certain product. Product Developers integrating feedback in development cycles are unlikely to get stuck with an outdated product.

Integrators also need a place that is responsive to their needs. Communication is important, but Developers also need to be competent and informed about what is going on within Industry. Developers should be a source for information about practical applications of their products.

Case studies are often a great place to look for this kind of experience. If studies aren’t available online, ask your representative with Developer if there is someone around that can authoritatively speak on product’s performance in live environments.

A lot goes into finding a good developer! Integrators often use a variety of products and offer the one that suits each job best. However, another option exists: Platforming.  

Platforming in Integration

Platforming is simply creating a place to develop solutions. OnPing is whatever an Integrator needs it to be in a given moment. Sometimes, OnPing is the backbone of Cloud SCADA infrastructure. Other times, the platform is an industrial app store in the form of LAS. Some people need a rugged, precise Edge-computing Lumberjack network – others have existing Edge-support but use virtual Lumberjacks to upload information for Cloud accessibility. 

Platforming automation solutions means to consider every tool you have as part of a larger environment. With OnPing, solutions don’t need to be independent. Instead, an Integrator’s experience with tools can be integrated into the overall system.

OnPing Platform Support for Integrators

Integrators often have products they already like and use successfully. OnPing can be used as an independent product, but Integrators can also use pieces of the OnPing platform to supplement other products in use. Some examples of this time of supplementary platform usage we’ve seen are:

  • Data Pass Through
    • OnPing can serve as a channel between data systems. The platform is data and device agnostic – and other SCADA systems are simply big devices in OnPing! OnPing can connect data streams between non-native environments to move data freely through technical infrastructure. 
  • Industrial App Management
    • Integrators use LAS to create over-the-air update protocols for Edge-located devices. Instead of going on site to update package configurations, LAS enables Integrators to make adjustments to applications remotely. 
  • Product Development
    • OnPing has developed several by-request features and applications for specialized use cases. Some of these applications have even become available for all OnPing Users – such as ControlLogix Tag Browsing, the Downhole Card widget, and Event Table. 
    • We have also made turnkey solutions at the request of several Integration partners, including a Lift Station controls package.  
  • Lumberjack Edge Computing System
    • Integrators can use Lumberjacks to enable data logging and Edge computation for Consumers with existing Cloud infrastructure looking to expand Edge operations. 

Platforming automation grants Integrators access to the best tools more often. OnPing uses real people to interpret feedback and integrate Integrator experience into production cycles. Communication is important to the platform and our Integration partners – and we are proud of the work we’ve done to help improve the automation industry. 

OnPing’s goal is to make data make sense – for everyone. Some Consumers can’t or don’t want to manage the technical aspects of a modern automation system. Instead, Integrators are relied on to solve problems that arise. OnPing is a place to create a full automation Platform with tools that work with one another. Use the parts of it that work for you. This is what people mean when they talk about flexibility.

Integration Summary

Automation is in a good place. The role of integrators is expanding daily. As more solutions hit the market, OnPing will continue to develop the kind of platform that the best solutions and automation specialists can call home. A platformed approach to automation supports the trust Integrators form with Consumers by enabling access to powerful tools more often and providing supplementary product support tailored to individual needs.

Contacts Us About Exploring Integration Opportunities

If you are an integrator or someone looking to pursue an integration career, we want to hear your thoughts on the automation market, solutions you are familiar with, and how platforming can help fit your needs. If you have any questions about platforming solutions, we would love to hear about the opportunities. Contact us at info@onping.net for questions or comments.