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When to Upgrade Your Industrial Control System

Worker updating control panel on industrial machine

Industrial machinery and control systems are built to last. However, controllers, interface panels, drives, and more eventually become obsolete and if they go down a replacement will be hard to—if not impossible to find. This can lead to days or weeks of unplanned downtime and lost production.

Benefits of Upgrading

To eliminate downtime and the problems that come with it, controls should be replaced or updated periodically before failure occurs. In addition, updating an existing system can lead to other significant improvements in quality and productivity, including:

  • Increased production output
  • Improved labor efficiency
  • Decreased energy waste
  • Additional “lights out” production shifts
  • Increased traceability for regulatory or supply chain compliance
  • Fewer operator errors
  • More…

Types of Upgrades

There are many upgrades that can be implemented when it comes to controls and automation. Some of the upgrades include:

  • PLC and HMI replacements and upgrades
  • Interface upgrades
  • Drive replacement and upgrades
  • Automated order processing
  • Data collection and machine monitoring
  • More…

When to Upgrade

The lifespan of a control system is about the same as that of a desktop computer. But because upgrading can be costly, many facilities wait, and in effect, their plant productivity and efficiencies suffer. So, when is upgrading worth it? To stay competitive and run the most efficient and profitable operation, you should upgrade your existing control system if:

  • The current system no longer functions
  • An upgrade would significantly reduce energy waste
  • You are currently, or have just completed other plant renovations
  • When the software is no longer supported by newer Windows operating systems
  • When hardware and/or spare parts are becoming difficult to find

Keeping Costs Down

Like mentioned above, new control system can be costly, but there are ways to minimize this expense. One way is by doing a partial upgrade. In a partial upgrade you would replace individual components as opposed the entire system—if the old components are compatible and can ‘talk’ to the new ones. That said, if the control system is obsolete, entirely replacing it is inevitable.

Potential partial upgrades could include replacing the HMI computer and software and keeping the existing control hardware in place or replacing the PLC controller and program while leaving the I/O, field instruments and wiring in place. These are just a couple examples.

For questions on how updating or replacing your existing control systems can improve your processes and profits, request a free consultation with one of our UL certified controls and automation experts today.