3 methodologies for system modernization

Sept. 3, 2020

There are many possible approaches to DCS migration, ranging from replacement of specific parts of the older system to the installation of a completely new automation platform. Owner-operators should take care to choose the modernization methodology best suited to their specific needs. No single approach is appropriate for all operations. 

There are three typical migration options. These include: 

  1. Phased migration, which allows system modernization in gradual, incremental steps. For example, replacing the human-machine interface (HMI) or controls on a particular unit first. Once completed, the end user can take advantage of a range of solutions to improve operations and safety. The rest of the system can be systematically replaced over subsequent months or years. 
  2. Complete replacement, which allows the entire system to be replaced all at once during a planned outage. In some cases, hot cut-over can be used to minimize downtime and ensure seamless integration of current control assets. 
  3. System upgrade, which allows an upgrade of critical system components at a pace determined by the owner-operator. For this to succeed, the control system vendor must be committed to retaining the value of existing systems and continuing to offer parts and support for the legacy system. 

Successful modernization is not a discrete project with a defined end date. Rather, owner-operators should partner with solution providers that offer a cost-effective approach for continuously maintaining up-to-date process automation functionality and minimizing the risks associated with system upgrades going forward.

A lifecycle management solution should offer flexibility in how companies manage their plant assets and predictability in how their choices are financed, including the freedom to choose when to modernize and improve upon their control system, how to fund the transition, and how long to maintain current capabilities. In this way, companies can effectively extend equipment life while providing a secure path forward to the latest advanced control technology and functionality. 

This special report dives deeper into the importance of lifecycle management in regards to distributed control system (DCS) migration. Download it here to learn more. 

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