Nothing lasts forever.
Especially our consumer goods from decades ago.
Do you remember that t-shirt you bought at your first rock and roll concert? It’s most likely disintegrated by now, separated into components by hundreds of wash and dry cycles.
What about your first car? Maybe it was in the early 90s, or even before. Probably 10 years old then, and even more tired now, some of those may still run, but there’s a good chance they have more duct tape than metal.
Some things do hold up well in their original state. Stradivarius made quite a name for himself with his instruments that have stood the test of time. However, in order to make anything that long-lasting, you have to give up flexibility and adaptability to the future. Those violins are great, but they’re only good for one thing – making music.
Today’s modern manufacturers look to be to not just reactive, but proactive to new situations and opportunities. Which means designing control systems that can be, and will be, flexible and adaptable. To take advantage of advancements in technology and keep up with industry shifts as they happen, then, usually means upgrades to those systems.
Are Your System Controls Up-to-date?
If you are anything like the typical manufacturer, agricultural processor, water treatment plant, or virtually any other facility, you have system controls. These are the processors and associated programming that run each and every production line, packager, or pipeline.
The most popular of these in the last quarter-century, by far, was the Allen Bradley PLC-5, introduced in 1986. The time has come, though, to move past this staple of the industry. The PLC-5 was discontinued as of June 2017. Rockwell Automation will no longer support the PLC-5, in exchange for moving to the next generation of controls, the ControlLogix system.
Current PLC-5 installations may continue to work for a while, years even. Ultimately, though, users will no longer be able to ignore the necessity of upgrading.
But if it’s not broken, you might ask, why take the time and expense to fix it now? We could just wait until it fails.
That’s a fair question. It’s important to note, migration often gets you onto the latest and greatest platform for a cost similar to replacing the PLC-5, if you can find one.
Then again, you might be able to get along for a while with the outdated PLC-5.
But what happens when the last refurbished control panel stops working? That shuts down your production line … idles your employees … eats up precious resources as you scramble to find a replacement … stacks up your raw materials as you wait to resume processing … and on and on and on.
None of which is good for your bottom line.
Experts were talking about this coming change as early as 2014. For half a decade we’ve known that upgrades would be necessary, and still, many did not migrate their controls to the newest version. This puts them at significant risk of failure.
There Is Hope After All
The fact that the PLC-5 is no longer supported is a concern, but there are solutions. Quantum Solutions will work with you to develop a plan for migrating your existing controls, whether the PLC-5 or another, to a more modern system like ControlLogix. It’s not about getting ready, it’s about staying ready.
This way, you won’t get hit by plant down time when the controls fail. And you won’t be scrambling to find an untested, questionable replacement on eBay or from some other disreputable remanufacturer.
Take a look at this case study to see how the upgrade process worked for the Kraft-Heinz Company in Granite City, Illinois.
And get more information here about the legacy control migration process. Contact us today to get started with planning your upgrade.
Remember, at this point, it’s not a question of IF your PLC-5 will fail (either outright, or, due to obsolescence, fail to perform as you need it to), it’s WHEN.
Migrating your controls before they do just makes sense.