Managing Outdated PLCs in Your Plant

Managing Outdated PLCs in Your Plant

Just like your home computer or other household electronics, industrial automation and control equipment can also become obsolete. This progression is normal and is a fact of life regardless of the parts manufacturer. Critical components such as micro-processors and memory chips go out of production, leaving producers little alternative but to reengineer their systems. Because of large installation bases, Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) manufacturers are often reluctant to withdraw their hardware from the market, however they eventually run out of the components required to build their hardware and eventually upgrade their products with newly available components.

If your PLC system controls several critical areas of your plant, you most likely already possess an extensive range of spare parts to ensure that system failure does not result in significant downtime. It is, however, important to note that having spare parts does not guarantee that you will not face problems as electrical components break down over time. There is no guarantee that a module that has been sitting on a shelf in your store room for an extended period of time will work effectively when required.

How should you go about upgrading and maintaining your plant’s PLC systems?

The best option to replace your obsolete or almost- obsolete legacy PLC systems is to migrate to new control systems. If old PLCs run important parts of your factory, it may be economical to explore manufacturer programs for partial or total replacement of legacy control systems. Some automation manufacturers, such as Schneider Electric, have engineered PLC “Conversion Kits” to simplify the conversion process, not only for their own legacy PLCs, but also for ones produced by other manufacturers such as Rockwell/Allen Bradley. Conversion Kits include adapters which allow existing field wiring to plug into new PLCs, as well as utilities that aid in allowing existing PLC programs to be converted to run on replacement PLCs.

Upgrading the controls on an existing machine is not only more cost-effective that replacing the entire system, but can also significantly extend the useful life of a machine while making it more reliable, robust and flexible.

If you would like to know more about upgrading your control system, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Click here to find the Kaman Industrial Technologies branch nearest you.

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Pete Stollberger

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