If your production line is still using the same controller that you started with, it may be time to consider an update or an upgrade. You may not know that your current machinery is probably capable of much better performance.
You can get that performance with updates to your controller's programming. If your plant is moving forward with new machines and equipment, then you need to upgrade your PLC to keep up and add additional productivity to your processes.
Updating Your PLC
You can find a programmer to create a new set of instructions for your current PLC. This is a viable option as it doesn't require you to change your already familiar equipment. It's cheaper as well.
Consider that instructions for you PLC have some fluidity to them. A skilled programmer can get your controller to do things that you didn't know it could. They can add efficiency to your automation and help your equipment to perform better for you. However, even the most skilled programmer can only do so much against the intrinsic limits of an older controller.
It's possible that the manufacturer of your PLC has issued firmware and software updates. This can help remove bugs in the original code and keep your older model working competently for you. Even so, you may need a PLC expert to figure out that you need the updates. You will also need them to install these updates. You can also call on the manufacturer if they still support your PLC. Odds are they will suggest an upgrade.
One major downside of an older PLC is that spare hardware parts may not be available should you need them. Even if they are available, they'll likely cost a lot. If you contact the manufacturer, once again, they will likely suggest that you upgrade.
Upgrading Your PLC
If your operation is becoming more complex, then it's time to flat out ditch the old controllers and upgrade to something new and more efficient. Depending on the size of your plant, this isn't an option to take lightly. There's expense that comes along with upgrading to a modern controller. The benefits however, may outweigh the cost:
- Faster communication between the controller and your machines
- Better compatibility with more modern computers and equipment
- Up-to-date support from the manufacturer, enthusiasts, and the PLC community as a whole
- Less I/O incompatibilities with your other controllers
- More memory for more instruction
- Spare parts are available
- System becomes expandable
Staying Current with Technology
An upgrade isn't the best answer for every plant, but it's worth considering. Technology changes all the time. Manufacturers need to stay ahead of the curve, not behind it. If your old controller is giving you everything you need for your line, that will be fine for your business.
If you want to eke out a little more productivity, than updating your old controllers is the way to go. If you want give your processes a professional, modern edge, then you should consider upgrading your PLC altogether. Speak to a professional like Flodyne Incorporated about making changes to your PLC.