Lessons we can learn from vendors on maintaining legacy systems for you and customers are:
- Keep it simple. When selecting parts and components for the machine control system, ask yourself if you will be able to obtain those parts five years from now. Choose interchangeable commodity parts whenever possible.
- Buy from reputable vendors. Buy parts and systems from vendors that give you guarantees of long-term support.
- Avoid the bleeding edge. The company out in front of the technology curve today might not be around five years from now. You probably want to make sure there are at least tow vendors offering whatever advanced technology you are considering.
- Use open technology. Avoid proprietary systems at all costs. Use Microsoft, Ethernet, fieldbus, and similar technologies that have multiple supporters. The days of custom, proprietary systems, networks and operating systems are over.
- Have a support plan. Market it. Your customers might be looking for the lowest cost, but it's good business to show them the benefits of buying a machine that has long-term support. Just like the big boys do.