How to upgrade control systems the right way, Part 2

In part two of this three-part article, we explore the benefits and challenges of different system migration approaches.

By Larry O’Brien and Dick Hill, ARC Advisory Group

Migration could be the biggest single issue many process and batch automation system end users face today. ARC Advisory Group estimates that the combined value of the installed base of automation systems now reaching the end of their useful lives is approximately $65 billion. This represents a big opportunity for end users in the chemical process industries and their automation suppliers alike.

In Part 1 of this three-part series, we discussed the driving forces for system migration. Here, in Part 2, we discuss several different approaches and the respective benefits and challenges of each approach.

When upgrading an outdated system, end users face a difficult choice – should they replace the system wholesale, or in phases over time? The single total replacement option for migration or upgrade involves replacing the entire outdated infrastructure all at once, eliminating all existing control system equipment and installing new equipment. Phased migration, on the other hand, involves a gradual migration over a predefined period, using a phased approach. The former can be more costly in terms of initial cost layout for hardware, software, labor, downtime and training. It can also involve the greatest amount of risk because you cannot go back to the old system if the new system does not perform as anticipated.

To learn more, read "A Strategic Approach for Upgrading Process Control Systems, Part 2" from Chemical Processing.

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