Energy in Industry
Monday, 12 August 2013 10:20

One step ahead with systems management

Systems Automation and Management (SAM) has developed methodologies that give its clients a control system upgrade without breaking the budget.

There are many challenges when it comes to the upgrading of control systems, such as budget, risk of production downtime and shorter product lifecycles.

Systems Automation and Management (SAM) has developed methodologies that give its clients a control system upgrade that allows the functionality of a new control system without replacing legacy hardware and software.

The first step is to replace the existing S5 central processing unit (CPU) cards with the new dual-control system X5/X7 CPUs. The X5/X7 CPU can execute both the Simatic Step 5 and Step 7/PCS7 programmes simultaneously. Additionally, the CPU has a four-port Ethernet switch-on board, which allows running the existing S5 inputs and outputs, as well as the existing Simatic S5 software on the new X5/X7 CPU, while being able to communicate with any scada system.

During the first phase, SAM connects previously non-networked control systems to other major PLC brands on an industrial network and communicates with any scada system. Further, the old HMI/scada can be run in parallel with the new system.

This allows time to check the correct functionality of the new system and also gives plant personnel time to accept and adapt to the new technology.

Secondly, the existing PLC I/O cards are replaced with new S7 remote racks. At this stage, the client can choose to install technologies such as field buses, remote I/O in the field, new intelligent instrumentation and intelligent energy meters.

These technologies allow a vast amount of additional information to be extracted, stored in the historian and used for data analysis and production optimisation. The upgrade process can be stopped and run with a combination of new PLC hardware and old PLC software.

SAM has secured the agency of several companies who specialise in repairing and supplying old PLC modules, thus eliminating any problem with legacy spares.

The third phase of the upgrade process is focused on software development. PCS7-specific controls/software standards can be developed to include functionality such as intelligent alarm management, plant sequencing, workflows and intelligent maintenance systems.

Links to the ERP system can be established for data exchange. Old software can be disabled during maintenance shutdowns, while the new software can be enabled.

The fact that old software can be reinstated, should newly installed software prove problematic, places significantly less pressure on engineers to get the new software running, which allows them to concentrate on developing quality software.

Once the new PCS7 software for one plant section has been proven to the satisfaction of the client, the next plant section can be upgraded using the same procedures as above.

The latest control and automation technologies can be deployed rapidly and the client can take advantage of these technologies to maximise return on investment at a fraction of a complete control system upgrade.

The issues related to control system upgrades can be addressed and their impacts minimised by utilising the experience gained and methodology developed by SAM over several years.


Systems Automation and Management

Tel: +27 11 231 8900


GIL Africa 2017