Control System Automation/Integration

Mesa’s CSA/I department has been providing software development, maintenance, and system design & implementation services to power, heavy industry, government, and manufacturing clients since 2001. Spanning across a wide variety of industries and geographical locations across the U.S., our clients include major electrical utilities, local municipalities, international aluminum producers, automotive components manufacturers, global health & beauty companies, local and national food & beverage producers, pharmaceutical suppliers, electronics manufacturers, as well as governmental agencies and their subcontractors. From the factory floor to the boardroom, our team of world-class professionals stand ready to support your process control and data aggregation needs.

We aim to provide the best value software development and systems integration services to our clients that will help achieve their objectives and allow them to take complete ownership upon project completion. Mesa’s use of open-source software and industry standard programming techniques allows us to produce applications that are fully documented and traceable back to the design basis. Our work is always open-source, never proprietary. Mesa strives to be a true partner with our clients, providing high value during every stage of the project.

We understand that our customers rely on us to provide a service that is of strategic importance to their operation. We also realize that our clients are the true experts that best understand their unique needs; therefore, our first activity for every project is to work closely with our clients to ensure the design basis is fully captured, documented, and approved before we begin developing the application software, we then front-end-load (FEL) the documentation. The FEL concept not only ensures a well-documented system at project completion, in addition, the documentation also provides a guide to the design team while the project is in progress. Our programming team has the end result in mind when programming begins; should a better approach be determined during the design process, documentation is updated and approved as programming progresses. Mesa’s design and development practices yield an easy-to-validate software, ultimately resulting in a smooth startup and turnover.

We promise to never substitute expediency for quality. Mesa is able to deliver on that promise through our defense-in-depth approach to programming, by assuring quality through the FEL approach to developing the design basis, and by building a culture of continual testing throughout the design process. The workflow employed by Mesa minimizes rework and vastly reduces startup cycle times.

Design Content

Typical Mesa CSA/I projects include the following major elements:

Control System Architecture

We will work with you to design a system customized to your particular needs. Our designs include hot-standby, high availability PLC-based control systems with redundant servers, and multi-layer network hierarchies. Let Mesa help you optimize your enterprise.

DCS Configuration

We can support your DCS needs directly, or help you find the right resource through our extensive network of CSIA affiliates. We are experiences with many versions of Emerson, Foxboro (now Evo), and ABB.

PLC Programming

Mesa’s world-class staff of software developers is certified in most major control systems, including Schneider (Modicon), Allen-Bradley, OMRON, Mitsubishi, GE Proficy, and Opto-22. We invest in our staff, providing training and the latest software and equipment. Our world-class techniques are fully developed and yield robust, user-friendly systems.

HMI Development

We generate our HMI graphic elements in concert with an overall plan that ties the PLC logic tightly to the HMI graphics using structured tag naming processes, control detail sheets, and other preliminary engineering devices in order to decouple the HMI screen production from the PLC programming. The two functions can, in effect, run independently and simultaneously because they both rely on an FEL concept that finalizes the documentation before programming begins. This decoupling of the HMI and PLC efforts is an important capability in projects with tight timelines, as we are able to parallel-process the design effort, and short-circuit the normal finish/start schedule relationships.

Control Panel Design & UL-508A Panel Fabrication

Mesa will generate AutoCAD or Microstation shop drawings, including panel arrangements, wiring diagrams, label details, schematics, bills of materials, and other documents to feed into a panel fabrication shop that is UL-508A certified.


Testing, at Mesa, begins at the inception of the design process. Our V&V procedures employ a defense-in-depth approach, whereby programming fragments are tested as they are created, resulting in a program that is composed of pre-validated elements that feed a quality system that will start up the first time. All of our software maintains traceability, as versions are stored in VAULT, a document management system that allows us to maintain version control. All of this testing culminates in a Functional Witness Test that uses simulation to validate the linkage between the PLC and the HMI, and to test sequences and higher-level process control logic.


Mesa will train your staff, at your site or in our lab, using the same equipment, software, and simulation used for development. Our simulation is realistic, does not require a specialized software, and is, in fact, created as we develop your application software.

Installation Support

After the systems have been fabricated and validated, we work with the construction team to ensure proper installation. Mesa can provide construction work packages, lead construction kickoff meetings, and provide installation support.

Checkout and Startup Support

After mechanical completion of the construction phase Mesa will lead the checkout effort based on the SAT procedure previously written, confirm proper installation of the system, and confirm all field wiring is correctly attached to the controls.

Commissioning Support

Commissioning is usually led by plant Operations, with Mesa facilitating in the background. After commissioning, the system will be in full production. Lessons Learned will be discussed and documented. Then Mesa will document and archive the final software, as well as package up any procured materials and turn over in the Closure Package.

Long-Term Production Support

Mesa offers a yearly service agreement which is designed to provide our clients with the most recent enhancements and upgrades available for their system.

Project Flow

Typical CSA/I projects flow as follows:

Preliminary Engineering

Project success hinges on the development of a proper design basis; we consider this a preliminary engineering phase. Our usual approach is to review the specification, develop a list of stakeholders, and interview the stakeholders to ensure all requirements have been captured. We then develop a Control Narrative1, a set of Control Detail Sheets2 a Data Flow Diagram3, a Network Block Diagram4, an I/O List5, and a Bill of Material (BOM6); after these elements are generated, we hold a review meeting with the stakeholders to confirm the complete design basis has been captured.

Detailed Design: Part 1

The early stages of the detailed design process focus on control panel design. Our integration team creates detailed shop drawings suitable for fabrication. Orders are placed for BOM items identified during the preliminary design phase. Programmers are fully developing the documentation deliverables prepared in the preliminary design phase, adding detail for any specialized functions that may be required. A meeting is held with the stakeholders to review shop drawings and documentation and obtain approval to proceed.

Detailed Design: Part 2

The programming team is in full production mode, writing software, configuring the HMI, and performing integrated testing7using Passive Loopback Process Simulation techniques, immediately following the client’s approval for fabrication. Our programming process incorporates a building block approach that builds on known good elements. Mesa’s Panel Shop will be fabricating per the shop drawings and the design team develops a conduit & cable schedule8, training materials9, operations & maintenance manual10(s), factory acceptance test11(FAT) procedure, and functional witness test12(FWT) procedure. Once the panels are fabricated and all design products are completed, the factory test is scheduled, during which the FAT and FWT are executed, with some portions witnessed by the client.

Detailed Design: Part 3

Punchlists resulting from execution of the FAT and FWT are cleared by the programming and design staff. After system validation is complete and punchlist items are cleared, drawing redlines are incorporated. A 100% design review meeting is held in which the final package is reviewed for approval for construction, the site acceptance test (SAT) procedure is reviewed for approval, and shipping and installation are scheduled.

Site Acceptance Testing

The SAT procedure validates installation and field wiring. After installation, a SAT is executed to verify all equipment has been properly installed, that motors rotate in the correct direction and valves stroke fully, and all other devices are functioning as designed. The SAT typically consists of two stages: dry SAT and wet SAT.

Construction Management/Support

In addition to being on site to orient the construction team for Mesa-provided equipment, we can provide construction management services. Mesa can also perform on an EPC basis, providing complete turnkey engineering and construction services, offering a streamlined project organization.


Mesa possesses particular expertise for developing curricula and class materials that enable our clients to take complete ownership of the control system after project completion. We provide post-project support to the level desired by our clients. Because our design process includes thorough documentation from initiation through completion, training materials are accurate and fully developed.


Mesa’s staff of automation experts, specializing in high-availability, hot-standby, and redundant applications, provides a full spectrum of services, from small work orders under $5K up to and including multimillion dollar enterprise-wide capital projects. Mesa’s CSA&I team is fully certified in a variety of hardware and software platforms, and is affiliated with the Control Systems Integrator’s Association (CSIA), including having staff members on CSIA’s Best Practices Committee. A significant value Mesa offers is our experienced staff of multidiscipline engineers and designers, who support the CSA&I group as needed. Our capabilities include:

  • Alarm Optimization
  • Ethernet I/O
  • Forensic Analysis
  • High Availability Systems
  • Machine Automation
  • Manufacturing Execution System
  • Process Automation
  • Switchyard/Switchgear/Substation
  • Telemetry
  • UL-508A Control Panel Fabrication


1Control Narrative Is A Detailed, Written Description Of The Way The Control System Will React To Various Stimuli.

2Control Detail Sheets Describe A Specific Control Element (Such As A Motor) In Detail, From The Perspective Of The Control System.

3Data Flow Diagrams Depict The Data Paths Between Control System Elements, And Describe The Type And Magnitude Of The Data That Will Travel The Path.

4Network Block Diagrams Show The Hardware That Comprises The Control System And Shows The Physical Wiring Connections Between Them.

5I/O Lists Provide A Complete List Of Control System Sensors, End Devices, And Software Data Users (Such As Variable Frequency Drives, Smart Relays, And Etc.) And Relates All Those Users To Software Addresses/Tagnames And Drawings.

6A Bill Of Material, At This Stage, Includes The Control System Equipment With Populated I/O Racks And Associated Network Equipment, Such As Switches, Servers, And Monitors.

7Our Lab Is Fully Fitted With Multiple Servers, Various PLCs, And Other Equipment Which Allows Flexibility To Configure The Design Environment. We Thoroughly Test As We Develop, Never Building On Untested Foundations. Mesa’s Process Is To Replicate The Field Environment As Closely As Possible So That All Aspects Of The Project May Be Tested, From The Interaction Of The HMI And PLC, To The Many Possible Methods Passing Data Between Network Elements. We Build An Integrated Test Plan To Ensure The Program Is Being Adequately Tested At Every Stage, And That The Program Is Constantly Compared To The Requirements Captured In The Design Basis.

8A Conduit & Cable Schedule Is A List Of Conduits (Or Tray) And The Cables They Contain Along With A Sizing Calculation.

9Training Materials Could Include Syllabus, Training Manual, And Training Video.

10O&M Manuals Include Material Such As Operation Procedures, Strategies, Maintenance Procedures, Catalog Excerpts, And Other Information Relevant To The Project.

11The FAT Procedure Validates The Proper Assembly Of The Control Panel And Its’ Contents. The FAT Is Generally A 3-Step Process Consisting Of: 1) Physical Inspection Of The Panel Compared To Panel Arrangement Drawings, 2) Point-To-Point Continuity Check Compared To Wiring Diagrams, And 3) Power-Up Voltage Checks And Ground Verification.

12The FWT Procedure Validates The Entire System Using Validation.