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When to Upgrade Legacy Control Systems

September 6th, 2019

Your goal: maximize the efficiency of your equipment while keeping costs under control. This sometimes translates to a modernization effort that will improve throughput by decreasing cycle times associated with equipment that is slower in performance.

A modernization project will help you to reduce lifecycle costs. Old equipment gets more expensive to maintain over time and if you upgrade, you will reduce downtime by having systems that are easy to maintain and troubleshoot – ultimately improving your quality metrics and reducing scrap reduction rates. The one thing you need to make sure doesn’t happen: an emergency situation.

Take the case of one company who was running a legacy system that included three of the nine controller units that were ever manufactured. There were no conversion utilities for the units, so every change had to be manually re-programmed. With multiple legacy platforms and uncoordinated alarms that weren’t tied together, without drawings, and poorly maintained documentation – extensive engineering was needed on a consistent basis.

Suddenly, the equipment broke down and there was going to be a high price to pay to fix it. The company had a short window to shut down and replace process instrumentation and control elements. They also had to consider operator acceptance of a new system, so the company wanted to maintain the look and feel of the old one. The company worked with JMP Solutions to evaluate several platforms and OEMs. They chose a single integrated platform that integrated the process with the existing PLC-based legacy platform. The project scope was designed to meet current demands and facilitate future growth while maintaining existing screens for operators to minimize disruption. The ability to future-proof their equipment to ensure the opportunity for on-going growth was layered into the solution as well.

What’s involved in this project solution?
• Understanding the situation and developing a comprehensive plan to eliminate downtime.
• Extensive experience with PLC, drives, HMIs, SCADA, motion controllers and applications that meet the needs of the business such as MES.
• A proven methodology and approach that is result-oriented and provides clear metrics for project completion as well as a timeline.
• Change management guidance that can assist the entire company navigating through a major hardware upgrade with minimal disruption to work processes.
• Documentation and training so everyone on your team feels comfortable with the new systems and can operate them with maximum efficiency.

At JMP, we also recommend that companies who are looking to embark on an upgrade project consult with industry associations that can provide information on the backgrounds and experience of the integrators you might choose. In the case of hardware upgrades, the Control System Integration Association (CSIA) is a critical group that will help to ensure the company you choose can deliver world-class solutions in a world-class way.

If you have questions, sign up for an Onsite Assessment with our team of experts. It’s a good way to get things started.

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