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Technical Guide: How to Implement or Convert a Control System

The following guide was put together as step by step approach to implementing (or converting to) a control system. Our engineers work on a variety of projects and have focused on the top 10 things to consider in the process. This guide is designed to help our customers succeed no matter what they face in their project or application. Take a look at our top 10 considerations below! 

How to Implement or Convert to a Control System

Get Everyone on the Same Page: While simple, surprisingly few people usually know the machine’s full scope. Management, engineering, and service all need to be involved. Include machine operators for valuable hands-on input.

Get Market and Customer Research: Key customers will have valuable input about what the current design does and doesn’t do well. Understand what the market wants and needs, what brings value. Toss out what does not. 

Keep the Operator Interface Simple: Don’t add too many things into an operator interface. It can get cluttered and difficult to read and understand. Simple is always better. 

Avoid “Trial and Error” Design Approach: Unless you want to blow up your budget, know what you want up front. Only make changes that are absolutely necessary to improve the function of your machine. 

Use Messaging and Diagnostics to Simplify Machine Use: The operator runs the machine. The operator interface should make sense to the operator, not just to someone in engineering. Keep it simple and to the point so the operator can focus on the job, not the machine.

Wiring and Plumbing Access: All machines eventually need service. Design your wiring and plumbing with ease of access in mind. Use quick disconnects where possible and never make up a hydraulic hose that has two 90 degree fittings (one 90 and one straight is great).

Price and Cost are Different: Price is not cost. Fully evaluate the cost of each product. Does it provide a production advantage? It may cost $30 more to design a panel with quick disconnects, but it could save an hour when wiring up that machine on the production floor. 

Build and Fully Test A Prototype: Prototypes should be fully evaluated and tested, but never be sold as a production unit. Through testing, you will find operating or production issues. Take time to get it right. Loan it out for a month to run it through its paces. This will save you heartache, time, money, and possibly your company name in the marketplace. 

Plan for Service and Maintenance: The service team should be part of the design process so that they can plan for the machine maintenance. Get them involved in the prototype so they understand the diagnostics and can provide input. You do not want to put a piece of equipment in the field that you can not service.

Contact Cross! No matter where you are in the process, our team can help! We have worked on a variety of projects in several industries and our engineers have an extensive technical expertise working with control systems. Want to start a conversation? Our team is ready to help! 

Interested in sharing or downloading this material? Here’s a downloadable PDF copy: How to Implement or Convert to a Control System. Also, check out some of our other technical bulletins below!

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