If you’re charged with supporting automation systems, sooner or later you’ll be forced to make upgrades due to obsolescence and support issues. This recent Control Design cover story examines your upgrade options, with a particular focus on replacing the most problematic components while keeping others, which is often the best solution.
Automation systems using white box PCs for operator interface and/or real-time control are a particular problem due to relatively short support cycles for hardware and operating systems, making repairs or in-kind replacements difficult. The solution is to replace the white box PC with an industrial PC or a PC with an integrated display, as either component will provide more reliable performance with a much longer lifespan.
In other cases, the operator interface and real-time control components have long remaining useful lives, but the I/O needs replacement to accommodate changes. In this case, Ethernet-based I/O can be used to interface to most any existing controller, extending the life of the entire automation system.