Integration of Smart Technology in Retrofitting Legacy Equipment
Published by : Industrial Automation
Legacy equipment usually enables retrofitting smart technology, despite to communicate even in a 20 years old system. Moreover, retrofitting minimizes the risk for the replacement of a high-cost system by instead adding the required capabilities to equipment that is already installed.
Challenges with the use of legacy equipment
Drives, sensors, and PLCs are the main functional legacy equipment, that is also revealed as the main component in the factory operations. The growth of the technologies in the global market is creating the scope for the integration of data collection and communication capabilities in the machines, which further expected to open connectivity and interoperability issues.
Considering the current scenario, the development in terms of technological advancements is already implementing during the production of the latest machines, despite the lifespan of older models not being complete. It already started from many manufacturing companies that reduce or stop the use of legacy machinery can be costly and time-consuming. Moreover, the demand from manufacturers for collecting data on their processes and facility equipment for valuable insights is also in the rapid growth.
Need to optimize the solution
Design engineers in the manufacturing facilities are primarily focuses to add business value through estimating the factory’s existing digital capabilities. In addition, it also intends towards the adoption of updated machinery based on new technology i.e. retrofitting viable legacy equipment with smart technology. It is estimated that the use of smart technology integrated retrofitting legacy equipment is more cost-effective than replacing the entire production line and will extend the lifespan of the equipment.
Rapid growth in demand for full digitization in the company’s operation from the manufacturers along with the suppliers and distributors. In addition, the manufacturers don’t need to invest in a haul of new equipment. The companies can focus on upgrading systems with enhancing human to machine interaction, by retrofitting a human-machine interface (HMI), with an easier-to-use graphical interface, such as a touch screen, or additional capabilities.
Human-Machine Interface (HMI) can be integrated into the system by connecting a USB, RS-232, RS-485 between the HMI and PLC. If the units have wireless capabilities, it can be even easier.
Smart sensors, which can measure vibrations, temperature, and pressure can be fitted onto legacy machinery, allowing data to be collected and made available across the complete factory network. This can feed into a predictive maintenance approach to glean insights on machine performance and upcoming maintenance needs. If a smart sensor detects that a piece of equipment may break down, the manufacturer can take steps to order a replacement.
These simple steps are the initial to incorporate smart technology in retrofitting legacy equipment to continue factory operations without interruption. Moreover, these steps might not meet the visions of connected every part of the equipment to analyze or monitor, but it can be starting a cost-effective viable approach to access, monitor, and control information remotely in factories.