Following our recent Alliance Certification with Schneider Electric for PLC Modernisation, we caught up with Andrés Mederos from Ematics (our Specialist Control Systems Integrator division) to find out more about Control System Modernisation.

Why upgrade your Control System?

Initially, the mean time to repair the systems can be significant, especially if the system has no natural migration path. The equipment manufacturer may no longer exist, increasing the risk of a quick turnaround replacement system. However, this should not deter you from making the switch.

The environment these systems encounter is far from ideal, particularly if standard non-industrialised IT equipment was used. Therefore, protecting your machinery and manufacturing capability is only common sense, and these control systems are a weak link in the chain.

Obsolescence of these systems also means that spare parts are not available from the manufacturers or supply chain. This can mean that a simple part failure could lead to considerable down time to your equipment, which could have significant effects on your business.

Old control systems often lack the cyber security options and patching available on newer control systems.

Ransomware and crippling of control systems is becoming more common place, and the cost of hacking has gone down considerably, as well as the hacking tools becoming easier to use, and widely available. Further enforcing the need to modernise.

What options are available?

Option 1: SCADA/ HMI

Conventional SCADA upgrades can be very costly, when no migration path is available where the software could be readily ported to a newer system.

SCADA software and licencing costs can be high, however the greatest cost is the reengineering work required to rewrite the SCADA software. Another solution to reduce cost could be to downgrade to a HMI solution, removing the cost of SCADA licencing and software costs, but this also has a large amount of re-engineering work required.

The simplest and cheapest option available is to port your existing SCADA system to a virtualised SCADA solution. This involves taking an image of the existing SCADA system and loading it onto a fan-less industrial PC which is far more robust than standard IT equipment.

This also removes the older hard disk drive technology and replaces it with solid state drive memory further increasing the robustness of the system. Also, the greatest advantage of a virtualised SCADA upgrade is the lack of retraining required as the software remains the same apart from the start-up procedure.

Let us help you decide the most cost effective strategy to meet your requirements.

Option 2: PLC/ RTU/ PAC/ DCS

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC), Remote Terminal Units (RTU) Process Automation Controllers (PAC) or Distributed Control Systems (DCS) are the ‘brains’ of the control system. Whilst they are Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) solutions they can still be quite niche and require special consideration when considering upgrade solutions.

Platform changes, or systems with no natural migration path can involve costly software re-writes, and extensive re-wiring exercises. This method can be fraught with risk and involve considerable down time. This risk can be reduced with offsite replication, virtualisation, simulation and testing of the system prior to deployment.

Natural migration paths with quick wiring harnesses, adapters and software migration tools reduce the risk as well as time/ costs of hardware modernisation.

How can Morson Projects and Ematics help?

Morson Projects and Ematics have over 40 years of experience as an engineering solutions provider, as well as a highly respected systems integrator.

Over the years we have developed sets of well established strategies to ensure smooth transition on control system upgrades. Our collaborative approach in working with manufacturers, supply chain and clients has been commended on several occasions, as well as our continued successful delivery of control systems on time and on budget.

Morson Projects and Ematics also invest in training our team, so they are aware of the current migration and modernisation tools available. As well as being a Schneider Alliance Certified Partner for Control System Solutions, we have also invested in training our team on Control System Modernisation.

To find out more about how our Ematics Specialist Control Systems Integrator division can help with any Control System Modernisation issues, please email the team at: