September 24, 2013
Updating 1980’s and Early 1990’s Vintage PLC’s
The Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is the heart of most modern machines and process control. They have been designed to be very dependable, even in the harshest environments, yet are often forgotten and not maintained. Many times the only attention they get is when they fail.
Today, few employees use the same desktop computer they did 20 years ago, yet many PLCs are still using 20 year old technology. The PLC is computer-based, so plant maintenance personnel need to be proactive in the planning for the inevitable migration to a new PLC. The thought of the upgrade process may seem daunting for all involved – from sales, to production, purchasing, and maintenance – but the process is far easier and less expensive than you may think. Depending on the model and manufacturer, there may be options to aid in the installation and software for the conversion of existing code.
Beyond the obvious reasons to upgrade, new processors are faster, simpler to program, require less maintenance, and have the ability to communicate with other equipment and computers that capture trending and record keeping data. If you are not quite ready to take the leap into replacement, at least take the following precautions to extend the life, and be prepared for a possible failure:
- Keep a current hard copy of all PLC programs
- Keep a current electronic copy of PLC programs
- Clean the enclosure regularly, inspect for corrosion, moisture, insects, and other foreign material
- If applicable, change PLC batteries on a regular basis
Change can be difficult, but with a little planning and help from an expert, the process can be relatively inexpensive, simple, and far less painful than an unscheduled shut down. Faith Technologies’ Automation and Process Controls team can assist in the evaluation your current PLC program, so please contact us if you need assistance.