Hiring the wrong PLC programmers can derail automation projects and cause significant operational issues. Unfortunately, many organizations make critical mistakes during the evaluation and selection process, which results in partnering with underqualified candidates.
Here are some of the key mistakes to avoid when sourcing a PLC programmer for hire.
Failure to accurately convey your programming needs upfront causes problems down the line. Without clear requirements, candidates cannot properly assess their fit.
Be specific about the logic required, equipment involved, interfaces present, expected outcomes, and special considerations. Provide system diagrams and specs to prevent mismatches. Evaluating potential PLC programming partners should be viewed through the lens of your specific project specifications.
Effective PLC programmers will have experience with your systems and working through difficult challenges. You will want to make sure they have expertise using your standard hardware, software, and programming environment, and are up to date on current PLC programming approaches. If they do not have the technical skills you need, they will not be a good fit.
While budget is always a factor in decision-making, hiring a cheaper programmer to save a few bucks generally ends up costing more in errors, delays, and fixes than a qualified one. Prioritize capability over cost.
You get what you pay for. You want an experienced, highly qualified PLC programmer for hire who can accelerate project velocity and optimize code quality.
Just because a programmer lists your industry among past employers or clients does not guarantee relevant knowledge. Push candidates to name specific companies they have supported and the precise nature of the work involved.
Probe their depth of insight into the equipment, standards, and practices within your niche. Insufficient vertical experience can multiply complications during integration and system design.
Speaking only to references provided by a programmer provides limited insight. While helpful, conducting backchannel outreach to previous managers or customers to get unfiltered feedback is possible. Ask targeted questions that reveal work ethic, strengths, weaknesses, and competency areas needing improvement.
Uncover reference red flags like vagueness, errors under pressure, communication gaps, or finger-pointing, before they become your problem.
A specific area to probe is problem-solving skills. The best PLC programmers are expert problem solvers and find innovative solutions to overcome unique challenges. You want to work with someone who can solve any problems that arise in the course of a project and find pathways for success regardless of the obstacles.
Technical prowess is essential, but so is alignment with organizational values and cross-functional cooperation. In short, you need PLC programmers that are the right fit for your organization.
Notice interpersonal nuances during interviews, like poor eye contact, defensiveness to feedback, excusing mistakes, or difficulty conveying concepts to non-programmers. Communication and collaboration are key in delivering on your goals, so you need to make sure anyone you hire can do both well.
It is helpful for PLC programmers to meet with company leaders, production teams, engineers, and equipment operators to get a variety of viewpoints—especially those team members with whom they will have to engage to complete projects.
Project delays and urgency often lead to onboarding PLC programmers quickly without diligent vetting. Avoid the pressure trap. Set realistic timelines and stick to a formal assessment plan regardless of your production demands.
Engaging unvetted candidates might save a few weeks upfront but often backfires and requires months of cleanup work and costly downtime to correct shortfalls.
By carefully avoiding these common recruitment mistakes, you can assemble a PLC programming team primed for project success. Invest time upfront in determining precise needs, gauging abilities, and confirming cultural alignment for smoother long-term technology partnerships.
When you partner with Pacific Blue Engineering, you get the benefit of years of experience in PLC programming, control systems integration, and custom automation solutions. With Pacific Blue Engineering, you can avoid costly mistakes, such as:
The team at Pacific Blue Engineering is made up of qualified, experienced PLC programmers and technicians who possess the expertise, integrity, and strong work ethic you need for success.
Request a consultation with the PLC programmers at Pacific Blue Engineering today.