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Old January 15th, 2003, 11:56 AM   #1
Stephen Luft
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Cost to develop a PLC program

Hi All,

Do any of the PLC manufacturers offer a service to develop a customer's ladder logic application program? If any do, what hourly rate would some of them charge?

What would the going rate for a distributor or systems integrator be for development of an application program. I know much will depend on the dist/SI and the potential of the application. Some offer the service in order to obtain the continuous business.

If anyone has experiences they would like to share, please do.

Thank you for your input.

God Bless,

Stephen Luft
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Old January 15th, 2003, 12:04 PM   #2
Peter Nachtwey
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Re: Cost to develop a PLC program

Quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Luft
Hi All,

Do any of the PLC manufacturers offer a service to develop a customer's ladder logic application program?
YES.

Quote:
Originally posted by Stephen Luft

If any do, what hourly rate would some of them charge?
I was always a third party that didn't need to know except sometime the customers did complain about outrages rates.

I think you have a handle on this.
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Old January 15th, 2003, 04:44 PM   #3
Tom Jenkins
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Team GE (I think they call themselves now) out of Roanoke Virginia does custom programming. They used to be astronomically expensive, but they bought out a few system integrators in the southeast and now their pricing has dropped to merely incredibly expensive. I can't give you rates, since when I have competed against them it was on lump sum bids.

Remember, if you start doing custom programming you may now be in competition with your customers. There is obviously a revenue stream, but there is potential for lost business as well. There are several brands of DCS and PLC equipment that I won't use in certain areas, if possible, because they are competing with me. It may be better, if feasible, to provide support for your distributors, who may be integrators too, to do the programming.
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Old January 16th, 2003, 03:19 PM   #4
controlsguy3
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Programming costs

I can tell you that on one occasion while I was out of the country doing a startup my boss brought in an Allen Bradley engineer to do some programming for him. It cost about $6500 for two and one half days work. I can also tell you that I personally bill out between $85 and $125 per hr. plus expenses depending on the job. Hope this helps.
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Old January 16th, 2003, 05:21 PM   #5
john paley
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I've seen quotes for systems including the code based on the number of I/O. I don't know how they do it but they come up with a cost per I/O point, somehow. I guess if they're selling the hardware, they can fudge a little on the programming.

It takes lots of experience to look at a machine out of the blue and try to estimate the time required to control the darn thing. I've never been too good at it.

To answer the question, Lots of folks do it--from equipment vendors to integrators--but most think very highly of thier time--and it will cost you.

We had an integrator do a panelview 1000 app that I simply had no time to do. We bought the terminal and the code. The guy had a controlview application to "copy" to do the panelview app. It cost us $14,000. The terminal was about 4500--you do the math. The guy did it in a week and spent about 4 hours on our site. That's about $200/hr. I don't cost that much but I didn't have the time.

My advice is to shop around. Come up with a good spec (that's tricky, too) and talk to a few possible vendors.
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Old January 16th, 2003, 09:02 PM   #6
rsdoran
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Stephen maybe you have read my infamous "rewinder" thread. To me it should have been a simple thing.

I have the drives and the plc's which I would install/wire...ie do the labor and most of setup. So far the bids that were offered from the few that responded (after hours of copying papers and mailing them out to people), I got bids from $30000 to $60000. THe $30000 bid offered the best option because drives and plc are included and I provide no labor.

If you can offer better options I can take to management I am open to suggestions. I estimate the programming shouldnt take more than a week at most and I can provide parts so for most this would say the cost is roughly $1000 an hour. The semi OEM at least offered parts that would justify the cost.
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Old January 16th, 2003, 11:22 PM   #7
Pierre
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Personaly I never get pay for what I do, I get pay for what I know.

I get the job done, WHATEVER IT TAKES. My clients know that and they pay for exactly that. Its absolutly not a matther of how many hours I spend doing the job, its giving them what they want. Even though sometimes they cannot really express the thrue nature of what they want. Its hard for a skilled manager to get into the detailed process of describing what they want me to do for them. But its not hard for them to tell me what they want as an end result.

They tell me, "This is what we have and this is where we want to be after your done here." I tell them how much I will charge them and thats it.

The last purely programming job I've done was 20K. They told me that they would have a similar systems to program in the next years. I told them that the cost would rise. The reason: bored by repetitive work. So we setup a trainning for there junior techs. They will do the next system. I will supervise a little. Everybody win. Those tech are VERY happy campers...

I guess that the answer to Stephen's question would be "what does it take to be a good programmer?"

Sometimes you have to deal with things external to the program itself. You need a knowledge of many things to be efficient.

Would you wait 6 hours for the hydraulic tech to tell the plant manager that "No Sir, this cylinder is perfect, it does not jerk or anything..." and then waist another day just to find that the hydraulics sucks? No sir, you need a little more than data crunching.

This is why AB charges the big bucks. They will get the job done. Period. (Well I hope there like that in the real world anyway).

Evaluating a programmers work by the time you have seen him taping the keyboard is being a little nearsited. What about all those late night reading and testing and simulation and all those Dr Pepper we have to drink...

No. We gat payed for whats inside our head... wether we will actually use it on this perticular job, or not. Its like an insurance polycie... and a safety net does cost.
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Old January 17th, 2003, 07:38 AM   #8
Tom Jenkins
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"Personaly I never get pay for what I do, I get pay for what I know."

I'm with you, Pierre. On the occasions when a contractor complains about my hourly rate, I explain to them they aren't paying for an hour of my time. They are paying for the 30+ years experience it took to learn how to solve their problem using an hour of my time.
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Old January 17th, 2003, 07:53 AM   #9
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In reply to Tom and Pierre I will share a little story with you that I have on the wall in my office. It originally came from some site on the net, but I cant remember where.

Understanding Engineers
(true story of Charles P Steinmetz (1865-1923))

Charles Proteus Steinmetz, an electrical engineer whose genius lived up to his middle name, worked at General Electrics for many years. One day a whole roomful of GE's most expensive machinery went out of order. By this time Steinmetz had retired, but the companies baffled engineers called him back as a consultant. Steinmetz ambled from one machine to another, taking a measurement here, scribbling something in his notebook there. After about an hour, he took a large piece of chalk and marked a large 'X' on the casing of one machine. Workers prized off the casing and found the problem at once. But when the company executives got Steinmetz's bill for $10,000, they were reluctant to pay it. "This seems a bit excessive for one chalk mark", Steinmetz was told. "Perhaps you'd better itemize your charges." Within a few days, they received the following itemized bill:

Making one chalk mark $1.00
Knowing where to make one chalk mark $9,999.00


I think that says it all!

Its not knowing how to make the chalk mark, its knowing where to

Paul
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Old January 17th, 2003, 10:27 AM   #10
controlsguy3
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Development costs

As several others have brought out, we really charge for what we know rather than for what we do. In my previous post on this topic I mentioned that an AB engineer charger $6500 for two and a half days work - he was worth that because he got the job done. I have come in behind several people who bid really low and got totally buried and the cleanup cost was probably more than the cost would have been had I started from scratch.
I find that many companies who complain about engineering costs have not done their homework prior to contracting. Their deliverable spec was more of an unprioritized wish list, no one wants to be a stakeholder in the project, and scheduling is completely unrealistic.
Customers who know what they want and are right there with me assessing the project generally come in on time and under budget.
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Old January 17th, 2003, 10:38 AM   #11
Pierre
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To PLucas... tanks, I like this story very much P+)
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Old January 17th, 2003, 11:37 AM   #12
Stephen Luft
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Thanks for your replies,

Recently we have been providing some programming services to customers that have contacted us directly. In the past, we have also provided this service to our distributors. Through trial and error, we have developed a program for our customers.

If a potential customer contacts us and the scope of the project involves more than just programming, whereby they want a complete turnkey solution, then we direct them to one of our integrators. If they are going to do everything themselves, but don't have the time or resources to spend in programming, then we offer our services.

Our intent is not to compete with our integrators. One way we have done this is by only having a few and spreading them throughout the country. They are able to offer their services for other manufacturers products, so we don't restrict them to our products only. All of the integrators that we work with are gracious when we come to them with an opportunity and vise versa. Our integrators usually have to deal with customer's specifying a specific controllers, usually someone other than Entertron. All part of the game.

We had been talking with an integrator for some time. They were familiar with how to program another brand PLC, but not ours. They came to us with an application and didn't have the time to learn our software, so we determined the number of hours and gave them a price. Whether they marked up the programming to the OEM or not is between them. The OEM paid for the entire solution. The integrator provided other components besides our controller, so they were doing complete integration (just outsourcing a small portion of the entire project). The customer was happy with the final product. The integrator was able to supply the entire solution and was happy. All were satisfied.

I wanted to find out what other mfgs. charged for program development. We will be providing information on our web site, offering our programming services, and I wanted to see how our hourly rate compared to other manufacturers.

God Bless,

Stephen Luft
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Old January 17th, 2003, 01:41 PM   #13
okiebob
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Labor Rate

Labor rates vary from company to company, how much overhead are you carrying, lean and mean = less $ fat and sassy = more $ on a GENERAL basis. We are a lean group as far as labor rate goes BUT you will pay for my lodging, meals, incidentals, parts, and travel expenses. Is it worth it I travel on a moments notice to get you up and running using ALL of my experience, I work in all conditions, very often with minimal to substandard documents to repair a job that was done by the LOWEST bidder who got in over thier head. I also train your operators in the use and limitations of the equipment. I have to figure out the problem based soley on a functional breakdown because in a lot of cases I have NEVER seen your process in a FUNCTIONAL mode. Am I worth it, you tell me.
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Old January 19th, 2003, 12:08 AM   #14
chakorules
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My general rule of thumb for estimation is 1 hour per I/O point.

So 16 I/O should take you 16 hours.

At a rate of say $60.00 (my rate), that would be $960.00 to program.

Using the hour per I/O point rule, I've come pretty darn close to estimating the correct time spent.

Good luck!
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