One-Two Punch: Use the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the P-F Curve to Save Money and Asset Utilization

Summary

IIoT can improve a manufacturing company’s asset utilization ratios and the production line’s up-time to produce significant savings in maintenance costs. This is illustrated through the P-F curve method of condition-based maintenance.

Causes of Failure Vary:

Let’s start with the basics. Failure of an asset or piece of equipment is a process, not an event. The common leading causes of failure in equipment include wear, stretch, deterioration, misalignment, and contamination. Each of these failure causes can develop over time. Additionally, the time from the start of a cause of failure to the actual point of failure (i.e., the functional failure) can vary. Therefore, these causes don’t lead to failure immediately, nor all at once. However, failure can and does eventually occur from one or more of these causes. Therefore, the failure of an asset is a process that occurs over time based on how the machine is utilized and treated.

The good news is that failure takes time to happen. This provides an opportunity for maintenance staff to identify potential failures and apply fixes, to prevent or reduce the consequences of the failure.

Fixing equipment after it fails is called Reactive Maintenance.  Unfortunately, it is an all-too-common method of identifying and fixing issues with equipment and has expensive consequences. Failure of equipment leads to lost production time, costly fixes, or asset replacement.

The preferred approach for the maintenance of equipment is to avoid failure altogether. We can maintain the physical assets in such a way as to avoid the consequence of failure, whatever the cause.

Consequences of Failure Are Expensive:

The causes of failure can vary from small to significant. If the causes are negligible, maintenance staff may choose to do nothing.

However, the costs or consequences of failure can significant, such as loss of production of the asset, loss of the asset such that it has to be completely replaced, or shutdown of a whole production line. In these cases, it makes sense to put forth the effort to detect the failure “process” as early as possible before failure. At that point, maintenance staff can take corrective action required to avoid the failure or at least reduce the consequences.

The performance of the equipment will degrade over time, from the point the potential failure starts through to the functional failure. The cost of fixing a potential failure often will be lower if the cause of failure is identified and fixed earlier.

P-F curve:

Use the p-f curve chart to assess your asset utilization

The P-F curve (illustrated here) illustrates the progression of behaviors of an asset over time and the increasing costs of addressing those behaviors.

In the P-F curve, the X-axis represents time, and the Y-axis represents the condition of the asset. On the curve, a potential point of failure–one of the various causes referenced in the previous section– will occur early on the timeline. That is the point at which a failure cause first manifests and may potentially be detectable. Over time, across the X-axis you can see the decrease in the condition of the asset. That degradation of condition will exhibit itself in various forms, each of which should be detectable.

The P-F curve illustrates the interval between the point of potential failure (earliest point of a detectable behavior which indicates eventual failure) and the functional failure, and the behaviors that are exhibited over that period of time are important.

This progression of behaviors and deterioration of the condition of the asset over time means it is best to identify the failure cause, i.e., potential failure, as early as possible before the failure of the asset, and fix it. Additionally, the P-F curve illustrates how the cause of potential failure will be less costly to prevent earlier in the timeline. Exercising proper asset utilization and collecting important data will assist you in avoiding machine failure.

Here is an example of the change in behaviors over time and the costs for failure prevention on a P-F curve: The potential failure could be detected early in the process in lubricant oil through analysis. One cause might simply be that the oil is old and needs to be changed. That can be a relatively inexpensive fix. If not addressed, however, it could then deteriorate to a vibration. Data about the vibration would need to be obtained and analyzed. Eventually, the use of IR thermography may detect heat where a human may not easily detect the heat caused by friction. At these points, the issue could possibly be addressed with inexpensive fixes such as additional lubrication or replacing a part. The issues could eventually progress to audible noise, heat detectable by a human, and smoke. These conditions could cause other problems with the equipment which would increase the time and costs for fixing the equipment. If not addressed, the equipment will eventually reach the point of functional failure. That is the point at which the costs for fixing the issue are highest.

A CBM Program Can Help

Companies can put a Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM) program in place to systematically identify and address potential failures earlier than otherwise possible and save significant costs and time.

Detection of potential failures with condition-based maintenance historically is done by regularly scheduled inspections. Maintenance staff will visit and review the condition of the asset on a fixed schedule. That schedule could be defined in a number of ways, including usage of the asset (number of hours of usage), productivity (number of parts processed), or the calendar (every 2 weeks or every 6 weeks). Some common condition monitoring techniques are vibration measurement and analysis, infrared (IR) thermography, process parameter trending (e.g., temperatures, pressures, rates, flows, etc.), visual inspection, corrosion monitoring, and others.

With this method,  the inspection intervals must be shorter than the interval from potential failure to functional failure.

The problem is those manufacturing companies are challenged with reducing expenses and staff, while at the same time maintaining and increasing asset utilization. To be clear the asset utilization formula is a measure of how much the asset is available for producing products versus how much it’s scheduled to be available. Any maintenance staff team member might struggle to visit and inspect every machine on the required schedules. This is especially true for manufacturers that have a large number of assets or where many of those assets are in remote locations relative to the maintenance staff.

IIoT to the Rescue:

IIoT can be integrated into a company’s CBM program to automate monitoring and analysis of equipment behaviors. In an IIoT solution, data can be pulled from sensors on equipment, analyzed, and eventually converted into valuable information. The IIoT solution can constantly monitor every asset — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, x365 days a year. The maintenance staff can then see the status of all of their equipment from any location, can assess the causes and severity of the potential failures earlier in the P-F curve, and then optimize their personnel and financial resources to address potential failures.

This allows the maintenance staff to then be more proactive, focusing on issues earlier. It also translates to reduced costs of maintenance and prevents the costs of lost production time. As a result, the manufacturer will see a higher asset utilization ratios for the assets, and thereby attain greater production uptime, which can be expressed in improved OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness).

IIoT Delivers More Money with Better Asset Utilization Ratios

Incorporate Industrial IoT systems on these pieces of equipment to decrease downtime and gather important data. Also use these IIoT systems to reach optimal Asset Utilization Ratios.Manufacturers can improve their operations and thereby generate better revenue and profit with IIoT.

They can do this by unlocking data from their equipment, calculating the OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) for the equipment, and use the resulting data to find the issues, and even fix them right then and there.

History

Let’s start with a bit of perspective. Manufacturers have historically struggled to determine whether or not the equipment was performing at its peak performance. It has often required a labor-intensive effort manually collecting data from machines, either by operators or maintenance staff. Often that data was collected and filed, and never compiled and analyzed.

Think about how much money and resources it really requires to keep up to date on all of the information on every machine in your lineup. Historically, you would have to pay someone to do all of this work. That is a lot of money on a regular basis for someone to get this done. However, that isn’t even the worst part, the worst part is the substantial amount of downtime. Downtime accumulates fast in these situations where a machine or a lineup of machines will have to be down to gather this information for preventative maintenance. Fortunately, there is a better solution today.

Large companies with large budgets have had the resources to purchase or build systems to automate the collection and analysis of that data.

However, technology has changed to allow smaller companies to purchase, setup, and then get immediate access to valuable information on their equipment. These changes include not only IIoT software platforms for collecting, analyzing, and visualizing the data for human consumption, but also changes in other areas such as PLCs with automatic fault codes, and low-cost devices to get data from older machines. This completely changes the manufacturing landscape. With this revolutionary technology now readily available to small-medium sized companies, the standards in all levels of the manufacturing industry are changing. Automation for better asset utilization is the direction everything is moving towards.

Research Says

Now more companies are using IIoT and OEE to improve asset utilization. Some studies suggest nearly 80% of manufacturers adopting IIoT do it for machine health and asset utilization (World Economic Forum’s Industrial Internet Survey). Respondents said the top reason they are adopting IIoT is for optimizing asset utilization ratios. Some even said near-term adoption was “extremely important” or “very important”.

How To

To get the benefits of improving asset utilization ratios for equipment, manufacturers must use IIoT and a KPI such as OEE. The company should start by using the IIoT solution to calculate OEE (How to Calculate OEE Guide). OEE a decades-old method of measuring how available your equipment is to be productive and generate revenue. It looks at uptime versus downtime, and all of the types of downtime. The IIoT solution can pull data from equipment previously not available and then calculate OEE. Staff and management can then use the machine fault codes and related equipment data from the IIoT system to the valuable, easier, and less expensive issues to fix. The fixes can lead to early wins of more equipment uptime. A data-driven culture and a continuous focus on OEE can yield a better asset utilization ratio and better revenue and profit.

End results

PwC research suggests industrial companies can achieve more than a 30% increase in revenue if they make efforts to digitally transform their operations, including using IIoT for improving asset utilization and the related asset utilization ratios. Some companies report they can find and fix issues within even a few weeks. This enables a fast and significant ROI from the investment in focusing on OEE using an IIoT solution.

Why should your manufacturing company look at the Internet of Things?

Your manufacturing company likely has business goals which include growing revenue, margins, and profits, as well as beating out the competition.

In today’s market, those goals are increasingly difficult to achieve.  Companies must continue to become more efficient, increase output, work for more demanding customers, work under increasing regulations, all the while continuing to earn current or better margins, and profits.

In the past, installing ERP systems or using Lean and Six Sigma frameworks was enough to improve the business. Many businesses can still benefit from those kinds of efforts. However, more and more those efforts aren’t enough to get the required efficiencies, production, and competitive differentiation.

The Internet of Things, which is a set of technologies put together into a system to convert data into useful information, is the next solution for enabling a business to accomplish its goals.  Here are a few ways IoT becomes the next solution:

  1. Digging Deeper: ERP and MES (Manufacturing Execution System) systems are set up to provide data down to a certain level of detail for manufacturing processes. That used to be enough for companies to make major improvements in production efficiencies. However, IoT can provide data that is another level or two deeper. It can, among other tasks, provide data about conditions inside the equipment. That data can be used to understand how close the machine is to its effective operational limits, in addition to providing production output and related data.
  2. More Uptime: The internal data can also be used to provide information on the condition of machines and even predict if and when they might break down. This allows maintenance and service technicians to fix the machines before major issues occur and keep them up and running longer, thereby increasing OEE (Optimal Equipment Effectiveness).
  3. Sharing Data: The information that comes from an IoT system about production and equipment conditions can be shared beyond the manufacturing plant floor. Equipment often has an HMI (Human Machine Interface), or a screen from which users can view status information. However, that data is often not available outside of the shop floor. Utilizing the “Internet” portion of the Internet of Things allows maintenance technicians, management, and business leaders to see important data as needed.

Once the IoT system is in place, people across the organization can use the deeper, more useful data from equipment, manufacturing processes, and other areas of the business to drive decisions and actions. This is where the data becomes valuable information, and thereby becomes the differentiator in moving the business to the next level of growth in revenue, margins, profit, and also in competitive advantage.

These Industrial IoT systems give you access to data that has never been available before. We now have the ability to pull a large amount of new data from machines instantly. This all happens in real-time and is a game-changer for the manufacturing industry. Instead of tending to a machine that went down, diagnosing the problem, and trying to determine what you need to fix it; You can let your manufacturing IoT system pull the data you need to prevent this problem before it happens, or if something does break, you now have all of the information to determine the cause a lot faster. This also helps you understand your machines better, if you can see the data and watch everything that is going on inside your equipment, you will be able to run an efficient plant while making confident data-driven decisions.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to Contact us for more information. If you enjoyed or found some insightful information in this article, check out our blog, we have many more IIoT based articles to help you take your business to the next level.

Consider off-the-shelf IoT software platforms

We have seen some companies attempt to create a custom IoT software platform for their own use.

Generally, we recommend against this for several good reasons.

First, some background information. [Or, if you are already familiar with IoT, skip ahead to the Why Not to Build section below].

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the process of pulling data from sensors on equipment or other devices, moving it over the internet, adding other data from external systems, and then transforming that data into valuable information.

IoT converts physical action and data into digital data. A sensor detects a certain type of activity on a piece of equipment. That “activity” is transformed into a digital signal, and then sent over the wire to a collection point, and then pushed on into the IoT software platform. The platform is where the data is transformed into valuable information through processing, adding other data from external systems, often run through machine learning algorithms, and then displayed to end-users.

Some uses of IoT:

  • IoT solutions allows companies to monitor and manage activities in various areas of the business, such as the condition of machines
  • IoT allows physicians to monitor the heartbeats and respiration of babies in-home and allows parents to maintain a warm home environment to allow babies to develop.
  • IoT can tell you what food is in your refrigerator and then automatically order missing items from your grocery store for delivery.

What is an IoT software platform?

An IoT software platform is the place where the data transforms into valuable information. There are a number of components in the platform, as follows.

  • Software: The software contains the data and cyber model and orchestrates various parts of the software platform. It also provides the visualization, and often the capability for end-users (not only software developers) to configure the system or make changes to the system.
  • Data processing and storage: When data comes into the platform, data must be processed and then stored.
  • Analytics: A lot of the transformation of the data into valuable information happens in the analysis of the data. This analysis can include basic descriptive statistics all the way up to machine learning algorithms for predictive analytics.
  • Interface to External Systems: Any good software platform must be open such that it can interface with other systems. Part of the value of IoT comes from data other than the data from equipment and other devices.
  • Security: Security is increasingly important to protect the company’s intellectual property. The IoT software platform should provide strong protection for data at rest (in storage) as well as in motion (moving over the network and into the platform).

Why Not to Build an IoT platform

Now, imagine creating a tool from scratch that does everything described above? The project would be immense, long, expensive, and likely experience the unfortunate issues and delays too many software projects experience unless you have the right team and leadership running the software project.

It’s analogous to building your own ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. We talk with a lot of manufacturing companies, and out of the hundreds I can think of only 3 companies that have a custom ERP system, all of which are now being replaced; two because they are old and inflexible, and one because the company truly is unique and no other system did what they needed.

There are a lot of ERP systems to select from and many of them provide virtually the same features and benefits because the needs of manufacturers are often very similar.

This same principle applies to IoT software platforms. IoT is about pulling data from sensors on equipment, moving that data over the internet, adding other valuable data to it, and converting it to valuable information. This means the needs of different companies are often very similar. Additionally, at a high level, the components of systems are frequently the same.

When needs are the same, and there are a lot of similar systems that can provide the required features and benefits, it’s likely that there is an IoT software platform out there that will provide what a company needs.

Which System to Use?

We are believers in choosing the platform that best fits your needs. We provide IoT solutions using either or both the Microsoft Azure IoT platform and the PTC ThingWorx suite of IoT products.

If you have questions or are looking at either Azure or ThingWorx, please call us at 412-923-3002. We’d be happy to provide a  free consultative meeting with recommendations.

Where to Start with IoT

In our post on Four Ways to Create Value with IoT, we discussed at the end the fact that making products better and making better products has a bigger impact on profit. And most companies want the biggest possible impact on profit.

So, – is making better products the place to start? No.

Why? Because it’s a difficult and complicated process. It’s best to start simple and grow into the more complex and impactful benefits of IoT.

It’s easier to wire up equipment with only a few sensors (or use existing sensors) and pull a limited amount of data and to focus on simpler tasks…improving asset utilization and optimization.

You can start with either improving maintenance or operating your equipment better. This requires less data, less analysis, and smaller changes in the product and company processes and culture when compared to the amounts of data and company changes required for innovation and invention.

Let’s take an electric motor as an example. Let’s say you manufacture these motors and sell them to customers. It’d be wonderful to start inventing new types of motors. However, you would need a lot of data about all aspects of how the motor is run, the environment in which it’s used, and the customer’s business. You would also need the capability and team to analyze that data to come up with new ideas. That sounds complicated.

Let’s compare that to adding a vibration sensor to the barring housing and a temperature sensor to the body of the motor. We should start by doing this for a single motor in our test or service shop. By adding “slap and stick” sensors retrofitted onto an existing motor, we’re already making the process simpler because we’re not having to reengineer any aspect of the motor.

Now let’s set up a gateway, pull it into an off-the-shelf IoT software platform to get the data from the motor, collect the data, and monitor the data. Are we able to see what normal conditions look like? Can we run the machine enough such that it starts to exhibit the behaviors we often see in the field such as vibrations from a barring that isn’t lubricated? What do those signals look like? Depending on the IoT software platform and related analytics tools we’re using, we might be able to relatively easily define some algorithms that can identify normal and specific abnormal behaviors. [KP1]  Then, the IoT platform allows us to set alerts to trigger the need for a service event. If we have this working well enough, then we can start to retrofit some motors in the field at a few customers’ sites. We can then continually improve the analytics, business activities, and decisions that come from the analytics, and business value from the whole setup.

Once the value is proven, then it’s time to move forward to execute other projects in this IoT journey which can drive down more costs and generate more revenue. Next might be adding the sensors to the motor during manufacture, providing data to our company and to customers to enable more efficient operations of the equipment. Eventually, the company can move to innovation and invention which require a lot more work and internal capabilities to realize value.

Keep in mind starting with maintenance should be accompanied by a review of your current equipment maintenance records, the performance of your equipment, and maintenance culture and practices. We can put you in contact with people and companies that perform these assessments and provide very valuable recommendations and follow-on services.

If you have any questions on how to start the IoT journey, or on maintenance and reliability best practices please call us, we’ll be happy to chat. We can help evaluate if an IoT journey makes sense. Additionally, we have many contacts in the maintenance and reliability community through our trusted partners and from our heavy participation in SMRP (Society for Maintenance and Reliability, smrp.org).

Ectobox Launches Internet of Things (IoT) Service

IoT Business Transformation Plan Launched Targets Growth-Minded Manufacturers

Ectobox, Inc., a custom software development firm specializing in the manufacturing industry, announced the launch of its Internet of Things (IoT) Business Transformation Plan for manufacturers today.

The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to data that is pulled from devices or machines (“things”) and then securely transmitted in real-time over the Internet. The data is then transformed into valuable insights to drive business decisions.

By offering specialized IoT services to manufacturers, Ectobox provides a simple way for growth-minded companies to evaluate whether IoT makes sense for their operations and easily plan and implement these new solutions.

Ectobox’s IoT services provide a framework specifically designed to streamline the assessment and decision-making process around IoT initiatives, which are frequently delayed by confusion and internal red tape given the lack of on-staff IoT expertise that is typical in many companies. Starting with a simple checklist completed by the manufacturer, Ectobox leads each company through a process that results in IoT projects that are completed within specified time and budget parameters. Examples of IoT projects include improving business operations, using equipment more efficiently, inventing new and more useful products, and transforming companies and competition.

“Service-minded companies who want to grow and improve, to build a great business providing great products to great customers… those companies may be struggling to get there and IoT can help,” says Ectobox Founder Kevin Jones. “I want them to connect with the idea that there is a solution, there is a way to get it done. They simply need to work with a company that has experience in manufacturing, software, and IOT to lead the way and help them get there.”

Ectobox’s IoT services are designed for manufacturers with annual revenues ranging from $20 million to $200 million annual gross revenues. With deep roots in the industry and an extensive custom software portfolio, Ectobox will be using IoT software platforms ThingWorx and Azure to build IoT apps for manufacturing and service operations. Companies thinking of implementing IoT for the first time, or companies who have tried IoT initiatives and are struggling, are good candidates for the IoT Business Transformation Program, says Jones.

About Ectobox

Ectobox is a custom software and IoT developer helping mid-sized companies grow their businesses with software and data for more than 20 years. Known for their experienced team of software rescue experts and system integrators, they specialize in helping businesses in need of custom software support to achieve next-level growth. Their IoT Business Transformation Service was launched to give manufacturers a simple plan to implement IoT initiatives to help their businesses. For more information, visit www.ectobox.com.

How to Measure the Value of IoT

 How to Measure the Value of IoT

Are you wondering if you should tackle IoT (Internet of Things), or if you should start developing an Internet of Things product? The answer lies in whether the IoT aspect of the product can be valuable to your company.
Many companies start IoT projects because their competition is doing IoT, and they’re afraid to be left behind. That can be reason enough to consider starting into IoT. However, an IoT project is a complex venture and is a long-term journey, not a short-term project. So, a company should start an IoT project only if it’ll be valuable to the company.
In my next post, I will share the 4 ways that IoT can be valuable to your company so can easily and quickly determine if you should pursue it.
Today, let’s start with what we mean  by creating value with IoT:
Connected devices and smart devices have limited value compared to an IoT device. For example, I use a small Fitbit-like wristband product. It performs its limited function well by tracking and recording my steps, heart rate, and when I ask it to it’ll record my blood pressure. It also connects with a proprietary app on my iPhone which allows me to see that data a few days at a time. However, this device and the phone app don’t connect to other sets of data. Nor does it then combine the various sets of data and present it to me or others where it could be more valuable.
For example, theoretically, it could connect to data from exercise devices like a Peloton (if I used one) to coordinate exercise regimes or set specific exercise goals. It also doesn’t send the data over the internet and combine it with my medical history or my fork and spoon to track food intake or to my debit card to see how many times I go to the local pub to have a couple of tasty beers. The device would be more valuable to me if it were to connect with some or all that data, combine the data in such a way so I can see evidence of my exercise and eating actions and the results I’m getting in a healthy body. It would be even more valuable if the data were available for my physician or exercise trainer, so they can help coach me to live better (accountability would be a big motivator here).
Let’s look at another brief example. Do you have some CNC machines in your shop? Do you need to use TeamViewer or a similar remote computer access tool to see data on that machine? The data might be tool paths, production results, machine status, and machine usage. That data could be automatically pulled from each of the machines, connected with orders and sales orders data from the ERP system, and combined to add a lot more value. The value could come in being able to optimize production schedules and forecasts based on real-time data or get early indicators of when a machine is acting up and may need to be scheduled for maintenance and repairs to prevent unplanned downtime.
These are examples of how simple connected and smart devices aren’t as valuable as an IoT device, a device that pulls data over the internet, connects it with other data, and turns it into very valuable information.

How to Evaluate Prospective Vendors, Part III – Value as Return on Investment

This is the third post in a 3-part series on how to evaluate prospective vendors.

Evaluating Value as Return on Investment (ROI)

Another way to inform decisions about whether a vendor will be a good one is by quantifying the value the vendor delivers. You can measure this value in a few ways:

1) Ask. Just ask the vendor to tell you about what value they deliver to your company. If they can’t do it, that’s a red flag.
2) Calculate the Return on Investment (ROI). You can figure the ROI of a project before it starts to determine whether it’s worthwhile to invest.
3) Go with your gut. This is a subjective, gut-check measure. Does the vendor add to or alleviate stress and worry for you? Chances are, whatever you’re feeling now, you’ll feel even more in the future.

Companies often decide to move forward with projects based on subjective beliefs. They might ask for the price of the project and then measure that against some unknown and subjective number in their head about what they believe the project should cost. That’s not a great method. Yet business owners, C-suite leaders, and managers who usually make great decisions in other areas using objective reports and KPIs can sometimes decide to do a project such as a software fix without objective information.

Here’s what should be happening instead: they should evaluate the project cost against the expected benefits of the project measured in dollars and then discuss whether that return is appropriate. Calculating the ROI of a project is not difficult. ROI is calculated by dividing the cost of the project by the benefit of the project, with the final value expressed as a percentage (%):

ROI % = (Benefit – Cost of Investment) divided by the Cost of Investment x 100

The calculation does not need to be exact. Using reasonable educated guesses is far better than using no data measures at all. To value the benefits, you can factor in cost savings, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and potential revenue or profit growth. The project cost is provided by the vendor.

Let’s run through a quick example:

A high-level manager of a company currently spends 3 hours every morning manually manipulating data in Excel files to arrive at solid project schedules and resource plans. Let’s start by establishing the approximate value of those three hours of management time:

The manager’s annual salary with benefits is $150,000. Using 2,000 working hours per year, we can calculate the value of the manager’s time at $75/hour. Multiply that by 3 hours a day, 5 days per week, 50 weeks per year. The result is roughly $56,000.

This value doesn’t even consider the value of other more valuable tasks not being performed by that same person that could be completed if they were freed up to the work. So that can also be calculated and added to the total. Maybe if the manager captured those 3 hours every day and was able to spend that time creating new enterprise customer relationships, the net of those potential projects could be $100,000. Adding that to the saved time value brings the total project benefit value to $156,000.

The vendor has quoted that the project will cost $50,000.

We can now calculate ROI, using the formula above:
ROI % = (Benefit – Cost of Investment) divided by the Cost of Investment x 100

(($156,000 – $50,000) / $50,000) x 100 = 212%

That’s a solid return on the investment for the first year, which is likely to improve in the following years when costs of the solution should be lower while the benefits continue.

In summary, asking about, quantifying, and getting a feel for the value a vendor delivers on any given project are great ways to evaluate whether it is likely to be a successful client-vendor relationship. Great vendors are already having these discussions with their clients. That’s how they become true “partners”, and that’s the kind of vendor you should look for.

This is the third post in a 3-part series on how to evaluate prospective vendors.