ESE responded to questions on legacy hardware and facility modernization via Twitter on May 23. You can check it out on Twitter by searching for #ESEtechtalks. The following is a transcript of that chat.
Q: You mentioned that this chat is about legacy hardware, what do you mean by that?
A: Legacy hardware refers to any hardware that is now obsolete (such as some PLC processors) or nearing obsolescence (such as SLC processors). The parts are no longer being produced which makes replacement parts and knowledge of the part difficult to attain.
Q: What PLC processors are obsolete?
A: Currently, PLC5 processors are obsolete and are no longer available. A failure in these processors could cause significant business issues, including the cessation of production for an extended period of time.
Q: What other Rockwell products are reaching the end of their lifecycle?
A: PLC5 processors are obsolete; SLC processors have an end of life cycle date determined; Panel D400-500 software platform is now obsolete; and RSView32 software platforms are being encouraged to convert to FactoryTalk.
Q: If a plant and equipment is working just fine why would you update it? If it isn’t broke, why fix it?
A: ESE suggests a thoughtful approach that provides many benefits, not simply swapping out parts. This can result in saving money, data mining, improved production, better security and enhanced supportability. It all comes down to how much risk you’re comfortable with.
Q: What is the risk of running these systems without replacing or updating them?
A: Under the worst situations, ESE customers could be at serious risk of plant stoppage in the event of legacy hardware failure. In other situations, outdated hardware could present safety hazards to people or property.
Q: Are replacing PLC’s a one for one swap in my panel?
A: They are not a one for one swap. There is so much more capability and functionality with the new generations of PLC’s that a proactive approach is needed to take advantage of the new technology.
Q: Is ESE able to update a process and equipment without stopping production?
A: That is often dependent on the situation, but ESE specializes in retrofits so we’ve had a lot of experience making sure that production doesn’t stop unless absolutely necessary. We want to work with you to achieve the best solution for you.
Q: Is converting from a plant’s SLC processors to updated technology an involved process? How does one start to figure this out?
A: Yes, retrofitting new hardware with older code is an involved process. Especially if you are jumping from older PLC’s to new processors. We suggest having a process engineer look at the current state of your facility and create an assessment for the future state.
Q: What do you mean by facility modernization?
A: The facility modernization process helps define where your plant is and where you want to be. After a thoughtful review of current infrastructure and production processes, ESE will create a road map to the future for your facility.
Q: Where can I learn more about how ESE helps out with this?
A: You are always free to contact us directly via our website or giving us a call. We’ll also be hosting a webinar on this topic on Tuesday, June 25th where we’ll talk about legacy hardware, but also our facility modernization process and all that is involved. Mark your calendars!