Technology is always evolving and requires constant change and updating. As technology becomes obsolete more rapidly than in the past, migrating your control system is inevitable. But modernizing your control systems makes this unavoidable and impending situation worthwhile.
Experts estimate there is $65 billion worth of automation systems nearing the end of useful life– $22 million of which is installed in North America. These outdated systems threaten unplanned downtime, lack of production efficiency and increased manufacturing errors.
Why you need to migrate your control system
As soon as you install a new control system, it starts on the fast track to becoming obsolete. New technology is released that replaces your system within a few years’ time. Next thing you know, your vendor has discontinued support and finding new parts is a struggle.
While your obsolete control system may not be completely out of order, it’s still blocking your plant from reaching its full potential. Here’s some reason it makes sense to upgrade:
- Reliability issues present threat of downtime
- High cost to maintain a legacy system
- System cannot support new technology to provide business data advantage
- New or emerging business opportunities are impossible without a new system
- Old system can be inflexible and cannot react to changes in customer demand
- Lack of visibility into system that could prevent irregular events such as equipment breakdowns, disruptions, etc.
- System cannot be expanded cost-effectively to meet capacity requirements
- No technical support or service from vendor
- Replacement parts impossible to find or costly to buy
- Cybersecurity or safety required
- Needs to increase productivity
- Visibility on machine trends may hinder productivity
- Need to make changes and adjustments on OEE
Reliability is a driving force in any system migration project. Reliability is important. Downtime is the leading loss of money for manufacturers. With multiple downtimes at risk, it’s easy to see why you need to investigate migration.
Migrating or updating your control system is necessary and inevitable once it has reached the end of its life. Migration only replicates your current system. You will be struck with the same problems just on an updated control platform. Why replicate your current system when you can enhance it with new and better technology?
What good is migration without modernization?
Modernization gives you more benefits and flexibility in your control system for future changes allowing you to cut costs and increase production dynamically. You can move away from your obsolete system while also gaining:
- Global data access: Information is power. A modern control system will deliver more data from your plant floor so you can make informed business decisions. This data can help operations and management make better decisions that boost production while maintaining flexibility. Your data can be accessed anywhere around the globe with a modern control system.
- Increased quality: A new and advanced control system will increase your line’s quality by detecting production errors and trends prior to value-added operations. Poor quality will incur costs from scrap, rework, warranty repairs and production recalls. A quality control application will not only be helpful in detecting errors, but has also been shown to increase productivity.
- Increased production visibility: You can begin to track and trend parts throughout production so you have accurate counts and avoid making too few or too many parts. This allows you to better manage production.
- Real-time diagnostics: Advanced PLC systems give you more visibility into your manufacturing process. This data can tell you when problems are occurring so you can avoid a shutdown. You can set up alerts to troubleshoot situations before they become disasters. An advanced system gives you more accurate data with your alerts so maintenance can quickly and easily address
- Security: Obsolete control systems are likely still running on unsupported machines (like Windows XP) that have not been patched in years. This presents a high security risk of your plant being hacked or infected with a virus or malware.
- Safety: A modernized control system will allow you to incorporate safety into your machinery so you can avoid a costly accident and maintain regulation. Your older machinery might not have the ability to add safety technology such as light curtains, area scanners, e-stops, etc.
- Increased productivity: Manufacturers are always tasked to grow their line’s throughp Maintaining production flexibility has become a differentiator in global competition. Modern control systems give you data to operate dynamically and efficiently.
- Cut costs: Cutting operational costs is another way to increase your revenue. With more visibility into trends on your line you can manage micro stoppages to save energy and cut operating costs.
It makes sense to evaluate whether you should migrate or modernize your control system. Here’s a breakdown of migration vs. modernization.
- New hardware
- Less Upfront Cost
- No Added Flexibility
- No Added Visibility
- Less control
- New and advanced system and hardware
- Added data visibility
- Increased OEE
- Return on investment
- Higher upfront cost
- Possible re-design costs
Modernization isn’t the fastest or cheapest upfront solution to replacing aging technology in your plant. But it is the best solution. You can simply replicate your current system with new hardware or you can embrace changes that will give you better quality, more visibility, security and safety, and, ultimately, increased productivity. Modernization in a global competitive market will pay for itself, unlike migration.