Reverse engineering of DCS, PLC, SCADA and MES systems solves legacy problems

19 April 2012

An increasing number of control systems are becoming obsolete, which presents a major replacement problem for many manufacturers. These legacy control systems can prove difficult to maintain and support. Spare parts can be a problem and finding skilled personnel to provide system support for both hardware and software, becomes increasingly difficult.

By working closely with users of legacy systems, UK-based systems integrator, Optimal Industrial Automation, is now able to provide a solution to these problems using its skill and experience to reverse engineer a process, allowing for the replacement of any control system – irrespective of type or make – with a modern equivalent that is well documented and fully supported.

“There are a number of very good reasons for replacing, or implementing the upgrade of a legacy control system before it fails,” said Martin Gadsby, director of Optimal Industrial Automation. “The first of these is timing. The changeover to a new system can be timed to suit production demands, and so the impact on production is minimised. Another reason for replacement or upgrade is cost. An upgrade, executed under an emergency situation will cost more, not only in the short term, but also the long term as any payback potential will have been lost. The final reason is that of functionality improvements. If the control system upgrade is left until the failure occurs, then there will be requirement to get a new system up and running again as quickly as possible. As a result, production improvements will be low on the priority list and will not be implemented.

After the upgrade the system is very likely to continue to run as it did previously, and any potential improvements that could have given a meaningful payback will have been lost.

Optimal Industrial Automation will survey the legacy system, understanding its existing functionality, and then prepare a detailed functional design specification for a replacement system. The company has in-house electrical design and build capabilities, where full systems can be designed and manufactured. This is complemented by software services that cover the full spectrum, from PLCs through SCADA to DCS, plus high level languages such as C# & VB DotNet, and database work, including real time industrial databases. In addition, Optimal also has the skills to configure and programme machine vision systems, servo systems and robots.

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