Routine maintenance and refresh of automation systems minimizes the risk of downtime due to equipment failure and lowers operating and support costs. It also reduces security risks resulting from unsupported operating systems and, at the same time, improves operational and production efficiencies via incremental functionality.
Sites must deal with a number of critical issues when it comes to supporting open control and safety systems utilizing commercial off-the-shelf hardware. With a well-executed hardware refresh, they can achieve significant operational and financial benefits:
• reduced potential for incidents/upsets;
• shortened duration of outage incidents;
• minimized complexity through hardware standardization;
• enhanced capabilities/functionality by using new hardware;
• lowered capital and operating expenses;
• improved visibility into future infrastructure investments; and
• centralized funding of required infrastructure modernization.
Upgrading to new hardware at the same time you're doing an on-process migration simplifies the efforts and allows quicker turnover of servers and stations (Figure 3). When performing a hardware refresh, it's critical to build and check all PC and server boxes before starting the migration.
Plants shouldn't overlook myriad factors related to the upgrade of DCS software and associated applications. To obviate software issues during migration:
• Reconfirm you have correct/complete licenses on all software before you start.
• Double check for approved configurations.
• Make certain to install software patches in the correct order.
• Be sure to update firewalls before starting the controller upgrade.
• Reverify settings during migration.
• Corroborate that host files have been updated on the new hardware to ensure proper functionality.
A successful modernization program can help reduce total cost of ownership, increase production rates, meet regulatory guidelines and manage risks, extend the life and performance of systems, and improve response to changing business demands.
The approach you use to undertake a control system migration can significantly influence whether you actually achieve the value of technology upgrades. The most critical consideration is planning: the more upfront detailed planning you perform, the lower the risks you face in the execution phase of a project.
CHRISTOPHER PETERS is a Richmond, Va.-based consultant for HPS Lifecycle Solutions and Services Americas. E-mail him at email@example.com.