ISA recently published the third edition of Start-Up: A Technician’s Guide by Diane R. Barkin, President and Senior Project Consultant of Harris Automation Services, Inc. in Houston, Texas. Harris Automation Services, Inc. offers a full line of control system services including: automation project engineering and management; design, specification, order, programming, and training; and assistance with construction and start-up. In this Q&A feature, Barkin highlights the focus, importance, and differentiating qualities of the book.

Note: Photographs of the authors and their biographies are included at the bottom of this page.

Q. Please describe the focus of the new edition of your book.

A. The book primarily focuses on the role and importance of control systems technicians (CST) in start-up (getting new plants on line) situations as well as how CST function within organizations starting up a new plant or process improvement. It also covers the materials and systems CST require and interact with during these project scenarios.

It’s important to note that the book doesn’t just address start-up situations. It also closely examines the specific processes and phases involved with getting prepared to start up a plant.

Q. Have these topics been covered before in other books?

A. Some of the topics may have been covered in other books but none that directly support the requirements of becoming an ISA Certified Control Systems Technician® (CCST®). The ISA CCST® designation is an objective, consensus-based validation of technician competency in all essential job-task domains of automation and control. These domains include all essential job functions, such as calibration, maintenance, repair, troubleshooting, loop-check, and all project duties—from start-up and planning to documentation and management.

The book reflects my extensive experience, particularly in these essential project duties and phases of pre-commissioning, commissioning, and start up.

Q. So the book will directly benefit technicians seeking to pass the ISA CCST® certification exam?

A. Yes. It’s one in a series of ISA books that can help prepare those for the test. Many topics covered in the book are included in the CCST® exam. At the same time, becoming a control system technician and ultimately a CCST® requires a wide set of knowledge, skills, and experience.

Q. What unique challenges or issues facing control system technicians are involved in start-up situations rather than during a plant’s ongoing, regular operations?

A. Some of the unique challenges and issues a CST has to grapple with include: a fast-paced, stressful, noisy, and sometimes confusing workplace as well as difficult personalities and personal attitudes. In addition, CSTs must be willing and able to learn in these settings and be organized and patient—all while being aware of and complying with vital safety procedures and efficiency objectives.

Q. What is the target audience for the book?

A. The book is targeted not only to control system technicians but also to newly employed engineers (chemical, electrical, etc.) who are involved with manufacturing operations as well as to students in trade schools who are contemplating entering manufacturing facilities as operators or instrumentation and electrical technicians. The book could also be valuable to high school students who are considering a major before pursuing further education.

Q. What are the key reasons someone should read the book?

The third edition have been updated to include some new technologies that weren’t discussed in previous versions. And, to be frank, the author has gained a lot more project experience since the last edition.

The book clearly explains how someone works within a team to execute a project successfully. This is not often explained when a person enters the workforce or when someone enters a project cold because of the fast-paced environment and the pressures management often times places on the start-up team. The book provides the background and understanding to help get people quickly up to speed.

Those that have read the book will have an advantage over others on the team (especially young engineers and novices) because they’ll be familiar with the phases and documents involved in such a project and all the personnel they will work with. Often times, the required documents are not provided and someone who has read this book can be proactive in obtaining them to make their job easier. I have worked on multiple start-ups and have had to ask for these documents to do my job properly and supply them to others on my team.

A start-up situation can be very frustrating and the book is intended to help alleviate that frustration.

Q. Are there any other ways the new edition differs from prior releases?

A. The third edition have been updated to include some of the new technologies that weren’t discussed in previous versions. It also covers all of the project phases leading to a successful start-up, is better organized, and references other valuable ISA books and standards. There is less on tuning because there are other ISA books that thoroughly cover the subject.


Obtain your copy of Start-Up: A Technician’s Guide, Third Edition today.
To get your copy of this informative new book, order it today on the ISA website.


Meet the Author

Diane R. Barkin
Diane R. Barkin, serves as President and Senior Project Consultant at Harris Automation Services, Inc., a Houston-based company that offers a full line of control system services including: automation project engineering and management; design, specification, order, programming, and training; and assistance with construction and start-up.

Barkin possesses more than 30 years of experience in plant operation, process and project engineering, plant automation (system design and development of control strategies) and project management. She is proficient with control systems supplied by Honeywell (TDC and Experion), Schneider Electric (Foxboro I/A), and Emerson (DeltaV).

Barkin served as President and Activities Coordinator of the largest Foxboro users group, the Gulf Coast Foxboro I/A Users Group, for 10 years. She has served as President of Harris Automation Services for more than 20 years.