Take your mobile device. I'm sure you generally accept app upgrades without thinking about what could possibly change. Yet, once the device powers up and things look very different, you start cursing and wondering why the developer who designed the new software just messed things up for you.
New White PapersVision Library or Vision-Specific IDE?
Learn merits and drawbacks for the two software development approaches.
Smart Remote Connected Sites
See how cellular automation enables cost-effective monitoring and control of data.
Criteria to Consider When You Choose RAM
Learn important factors to consider before specifying a new industrial PC.
Remote Shutdown Device Improves Safety and Performance
A new data concentrator system allowed the control room and oil drill ships to communicate at a distance, providing security while avoiding costly shutdowns.
Special to the WebNew Food Processing Data Regs, so Machine Builder Beware
Learn IEC 61131-3 Programming Languages
Curriculum Leads the Way to Global STEM Education
Help Encourage Future Female Engineers
In "What Really Happens When You Update Software and Machinery," T.J. McDermott, senior project engineer at integrator Systems Interface, says that keeping up with computer, machinery and software updates can be complicated. For starters, industrial systems usually last decades before any upgrades are required, but the computers that support your machines' PLC, HMI and safety systems are built to last only three years. Because of this disconnect between the machine systems and the software, industry professionals are on a never-ending race, trying to keep up with current software that talks to perfectly working, but outdated machinery. Virtualization software companies might have the solution, he says.
A Control Design cover story from several years ago — in which Rich Merritt, senior technical editor at the time, reported on how difficult it can be to migrate control systems — still rings true today. In "Good Migrations," Merritt says that system migrations can lead to an improved return on investment for your customers, but the journey is always a tough one. We all wish the systems could work perfectly forever, but the truth is they just don't. You could just select a few key elements to upgrade and migrate slowly, or you could grab an entire new package and run with that. Either way, you need to know what your best option is before migrating your control systems.
Change is hard and since we are creatures of habit, adapting to changes can be difficult for us. But we (I) have to remember that sometimes software upgrades actually do make our lives easier.