Many of our clients still run the first-generation control systems that were installed in critical areas of their plants more than 20 years ago. For those systems, it’s increasingly hard to find replacement parts, or people capable of maintaining and updating them.
The longer firms wait to upgrade these systems, the greater the risk of a sudden plant shutdown, with all the production losses that such unscheduled stoppages entail.
But migrating from these systems is far from simple. Moving from an antiquated control system to one 20 years newer represents a huge technological leap forward in terms of communications, power, performance, etc.
Recently, Hexa Ingenieros successfully carried out an extremely complex migration that really showcases our capabilities.
Few control systems are harder to upgrade and bring into line with current technology than a redundant Siemens S5-115F PLC. Because equipment like this has been performing robustly and reliably for over 20 years it has never been replaced, meaning it is now well beyond its intended service life and making it critical to the plant because, if one of its components were to fail, replacing it with an equivalent one would be extremely difficult.
This migration’s complexity lies in the need to implement the change while maintaining the plant’s intrinsic safety, ensuring system redundancy and upgrading a device that is over 20 years old, with everything that entails in terms of communications, availability, source code and ‘safe’ instructions.
Hexa Ingenieros opted to migrate the system to two redundant Siemens S7-400 HF units plus its ET 200 SP distributed safety peripherals.
The benefits the client gained after successful system migration speak for themselves:
- Elimination of a black box from one of its plant’s critical systems.
- Staff fully trained to make system updates and carry out diagnostics.
- Option of integrating the new control system with other higher-level systems (ERP, MES/MOM, etc.).
- Easily available replacement parts.
- Extension of the system’s service life.
Upgrading control systems is increasingly becoming critical, and working with an engineering firm with extensive experience and a long list of success stories in projects like this gives manufacturers the guarantee they need.
Is the system at your plant similar? If so, feel free to contact us — we can help you.