Unplanned Obsolescence

A recent case history we published about machine builder Weiler Engineering....they build form/fill/seal machines.....points out how it dealt with compatibility issues of new control components when its original controls supplier changed its product line. PLCs and drives stopped speaking to each other. How far in advance are you looking to try to anticipate when your controls supplier might pull the rug out from under you? Do you know when its time to retire older technology and move forward without that impending threat pushing you? Do you firmly believe they won't leave you hanging? Is your relationship that solid? What responsibility does a large automation supplier have regarding smaller automation product users? Are you better off with Tier 2 companies in that regard? Do you think a PLC-based platform provides more legacy protection than a PC-based system? Control Design gets carpet-bombed with information about the latest, greatest automation technology now available to machine builders. We need to remind ourselves from time to time not to fall into a line of thinking that says "every machine builder knows about this stuff and every machine builder wants this stuff." I hear you yelling "Not so, bud. There's a very large installed base of legacy machines out there performing just fine, thank you." You don't have the option of dynamiting your control system and starting over. You have to adapt, of course, and find ways to bring improved performance to your machines. But you want to migrate to newer technologies on your terms, not a supplier's. That's what we remind ourselves is our primary goal. We'll tell you about the new stuff, so you can check it out for yourselves. More often than not, we'll give you case histories with similiar themes to the Weiler story [here's the article] that provide evidence of those successful migrations. If you have that story to tell.....start here.