September 20th, 2016
- Bailey Infin 90 and Net 90 – now owned by ABB
- Reliance Automax – Now Rockwell
- Moore APACS – Siemens since 2000 with an end-of-life marked for 2020
- Westinghouse WDPF, Provox, RS3 – Emerson since the early 90’s
- Rockwell PLC5’s are still very prevalent and they will lose manufacturer support in 2017
- Foxboro IA – Now part of Schneider since purchasing Invensys
6 Immediate Action Items for Aging DCS/PLC
- Get copies of all software license files
- Update your system drawings
- Check your spares
- Make a wish list
- Develop a Functional Specification for a migration plan
#1 BackupYou need to find a way to obtain backups. The best method is to take an image of the machines, although this can be difficult if you are dealing with an old operating system. There are several software packages available to perform this task, but the one we have found that works best for us is Acronis. It allows you to do partial restores and restores to non-similar machines. Whatever method you choose, get it done and do it soon!
#2 Get Copies Of All Software License FilesMake copies of all license files. We have seen on more than one occasion where the SCADA or other types of software is not technically licensed to the end user. It was still in the integrator or OEM’s name – or even worse in another customer’s name! Once you have copies, check with the vendor to ensure the licenses are valid. If they are not, you have another set of problems to deal with and should make contact with whoever sold it to you.
#3 Update Your System DrawingsThis includes panel drawings, P&IDs, network layout and/or One-Line Diagrams (also known as Single-Line Diagrams), etc. This is the most time-consuming task, but it will pay extreme dividends in the long run. If possible, get electronic copies of your panel drawings and have someone (an engineer, a maintenance tech, or intern) go through all of the I/O to ensure the drawings are labeled correctly and all of the wires are marked with wire numbers. If there are decommissioned I/O then disconnect them and label them as such. Please take the proper precautions in accordance with appropriate regulations. Also, watch for old network cables as they are prone to come loose. This can cause the process to stop or shutdown. As much trouble as it may seem, this exercise will help facilitate the crossover drawings during a future upgrade. This will also be greatly appreciated by your maintenance team while they troubleshoot your aging system prior to an upgrade. If you do not have drawings, take detailed pictures and create termination drawings. As long as they are accurate they will suffice.
#4 Check Your SparesImmediately review your available spares and ensure that you have spare parts for all critical components. The problem you will have is that since your system is old, or potentially obsolete, the costs of the parts are greatly elevated. So take into consideration how long you will be running on the old system and when you start your migration. Often, a phased-in approach will provide you spare parts as each phase is replaced. By migrating in phases, the blows to the budget are lessened.
#5 Make a Wish ListBegin developing a list of priority issues that you would change, if you could. Be sure to include operations and maintenance as well. Include specific problems if you know them, such as specific loops running in manual, field shorts or recurring instrument problems, lack of backup power, safety concerns, or process improvements. An example would be to add wireless systems in the plant so operators could stand at a specific piece of equipment and control it using a handheld operator screen or even a tablet. Be creative. Technology is changing and there are a lot of options available to increase productivity and make system maintenance easier. Don’t forget about the control room furniture. If you upgrade to a modern control system, why not spend a little money on the control room to make the operators’ jobs easier.
#6 Develop a Functional Specification For A Migration PlanWe see many Request For Proposals and specs for upgrades that are less than sufficient to quote a job accurately. It doesn’t mean that a qualified integrator cannot quote the project, but the more unknowns and assumptions that a vendor has to take on, the more contingency they have to put in the quote. It then becomes a matter of who guesses best, is willing to take on the most risk, or play the change order game. Regardless of the method, your corporate budget is also at greater risk with a higher number of contingencies. A well done Functional Specification will allow you to plan the best method with the requirements that are important to your company and specific to your system. The key is that the results are clearly defined and contingency is minimized. As long as the Functional Specification is followed, the end results will be how you desired it and not how an integrator interpreted your vague RFQ.
You don’t need to wait until the last minute when you are upgrading your system. A good Functional Specification will also provide you with an accurate budget and sample schedule so you can plan and budget for the migration properly. You may also choose to migrate in phases, which can be outlined in the Functional Specification.
This preparation and planning for system migration does not have to be outsourced if you have the capability in house. If you do not, find an integrator that has experience in performing these types of migrations and the preparation that goes along with it. The Functional Design Specification is a very important and critical part of this entire process. There are many variations and interpretations on this type of document, so you want to ensure you understand what you’re getting and the selected vendor understands what you want. Just remember, there is a difference in the quality of the end results.
Effective implementation of these steps will provide you with spares, backups, and the proper licensing to ensure you are prepared for dealing with the existing system. Your drawings and wish list will help to prepare you for developing a good Functional Specification which is your execution process to ensure that you know your end goals and have engineered the roadmap to get there.
We have seen time and again that these steps prove a little planning can go a long way to help your company properly plan for dealing with obsolescence.