10 steps to a smoother automation system upgrade
Ancillary systems and space requirements
The new automation system components will be housed in a particular area, usually the control room where the older system resided. The following areas should be examined to ensure that they meet the required specifications of the new system, and the ongoing needs of operations and maintenance:
- Power requirements, including UPS
- HVAC requirements
- Physical footprint, and
- Control room ergonomics.
The UPS and other power systems must have sufficient capacity to handle the new automation system components. Similarly, the HVAC system must be able to keep the new electronics cool while maintaining a comfortable work environment for operators.
Sufficient overall space must be available to house and mount the new system components, including control hardware and operator workstations. Many older automation systems have custom consoles that can’t be used with the new automation system, or that must be substantially modified.
One area that’s often overlooked when a thorough FEL evaluation isn’t performed is the commissioning plan and its effects on the ancillary systems and space requirements. Many commissioning cutover plans call for simultaneous operation of the old and the new automation systems. This can obviously have profound effects, and careful planning is often required to accommodate the operation of both systems at once. Temporary auxiliary power systems are often necessary, along with transitional mounting spaces.
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After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
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