An old DCS is not necessarily a bad DCS.
There are many older DCS operating without issue in plants around the world. Maybe you have one of them.
Still, I get this question almost every day: “How do I know it's time to migrate my DCS?” (And the follow up question, “And how should I do it?”)
Let me address both. The numbers from ARC Advisory Group show that you're not alone:
With these older systems, two issues are significant:
If you can get the parts, you still need someone knowledgeable to use them. And that's where the biggest risk comes in. A significant number of DCS experts are leaving the workforce without the adequate number to replace them – and if you are lucky enough to find an expert, there's still a lack of knowledge about older systems.
So, with these factors in mind, you realize it's time to migrate. But what's the best way for your situation?
The first hurdle is financial justification. That's where you might hit a wall called, “If it isn't broke, don't fix it.”
Remember: the economic picture is more than simply upfront expense. You need to look at overall costs – and benefits. Migrating to current technology gives you enhanced optimization capabilities, reduced lifecycle costs, increased yield and quality, and more data for faster decision making.
The Process Solutions User Group (PSUG) event, November 7-8 in Atlanta, GA, brings together a diverse gathering of professionals from every process industry around the globe to share common interests in learning about the latest process automation technologies. Register to attend.
When I talk about migrating a legacy DCS, the options generally fall into two buckets: phased, or rip and replace.
What's best for you depends on your situation, because both present big plusses – and a few drawbacks.
Phased migration benefits:
Phased migration drawbacks:
Full migration benefits:
Full migration drawbacks
What's right for you will depend on the goals you want to achieve, and how fast you want to see results.
No matter your situation, or your timeline, one thing is clear: in my experience, the time to “fix” something is before it's broken.