Increasing Project Efficiencies in Control System Modernizations

As members of the “baby boom” generation retire and remove their deep experience from process manufacturers and producers, sometimes the remaining staff knows little of the inner workings of the control systems. Many of these distributed control systems and PLCs that have been in service for decades have become “black boxes” in which the current staff is fearful to touch.

There is a need to modernize these systems and train the staff on their operation—not only to reduce the risk of failing components, but also to take advantage of the additional capabilities that modern systems can deliver to improve overall performance.

Emerson's Cody Long


In an Emerson Exchange 365 post, Kick Starting Your FEED Study, Emerson’s Cody Long describes an automated approach to digging into the legacy control system configuration and I/O list. When performed manually, this work can take weeks and need to be performed by personnel with experience with the legacy system.

Cody describes how he used this tool-assisted service during a modernization project to extract Modicon I/O from a NovaTech D/3 during the front end engineering design (FEED) stage of the project. He noted that by having extracted this I/O data, this:

…allowed for quicker and more accurate field reconciliation of the I/O, the assignment of CHARMs channels, tag tracking and most importantly – fully defining the I/O scope of the execution phase of the project.

This brownfield plant was migrating to a DeltaV S-Series distributed control system with Electronic Marshalling. Part of the FEED activity was to validate that the I/O on the wiring drawings was physically present in the field and vice-versa. Using this tool-assisted service, the project team analyzed the database to tell them exactly what was running on the system—in other words, what was “live” I/O. They could also use the database and check against the drawing—without having to perform the intensive point-by-point checking in the field.

Cody developed this tool and it is used by Emerson’s Modernization Services team for these types of projects. We highlighted how it works with many legacy systems in an earlier post, Using Tool Assisted Services to Speed up Project Execution and Reduce Risk.

While the tool improves project execution efficiency in the early planning stages of a project, it is valuable across many phases of a control system modernization project:

Tool-assisted services align with the modernization project process

Tool-assisted services align with the modernization project process

If you’ll be joining us October 12-16 in Denver for the Emerson Exchange conference, make sure to visit with the Modernization Services team in the exhibits area. You have until August 15 to get the Early Bird Registration rate.

You can also connect and interact with control system project and modernization experts in the Improve & Modernize group in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.

One comment so far

  1. Don’t just replace the control system using the same old measurements. Take the opportunity to explore what measurements are missing around the plant. Start with a plant modernization audit. This will uncover instrumentation needs in the area of reliability, maintainability, energy efficiency, HS&E, and productivity. See further explanation in this essay:
    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/meet-new-demands-plant-modernization-audit-jonas-berge

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