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7 Considerations for Mechanical and Automation Migrations

To help you get through the pressures that your team will undoubtedly face during a migration, consider these important steps to prepare.

Heather Johnson, Interstates Control Systems
Heather Johnson, Interstates Control Systems

Making major mechanical and automation upgrades can put a lot of pressure on a facility and its team. As with most projects, challenges will be experienced. Here are the top seven things to consider during the migration process:

  1. Ensure you have the right people available in the right area of the plant during the checkout/startup phase. This includes site personnel and representatives from vendors and/or system integrators. Everyone will be working within a budget and there will be a limited number of people who know the system. Be sure to keep the schedule in front of everyone and plan accordingly.
  2. During the commissioning phase, expect things to not go perfect. Make sure to involve people who understand how the system needs to run and, if doing a retrofit, how it ran previously. Working together as a team is crucial to successfully make adjustments to the programming or mechanical when needed.
  3. Establish a chain of command. Assign a point person who has the final say on decisions during checkout/startup.
  4. Limit the number of changes leading up to and during checkout/startup. If a change is made at this time, it should be critical to the success of the project.
  5. Make time for system training before and after the shutdown. Ideally, hands-on training will be implemented with the system through a user acceptance test prior to the shutdown. The number of changes applied to the control system will determine how much time is needed for the system integrator to stay onsite and work with operations and maintenance in understanding the system.
  6. Consider scheduling a follow-up trip several weeks or a month post-startup to fine-tune how the system is running. This time can also be used for more detailed training with your controls maintenance team to help them better understand how to effectively troubleshoot the new system.
  7. An operator manual is a standard expectation with a control system. Another option to consider that might be more effective for future use would be short training videos made on frequently needed topics. It is common to use websites such as YouTube to find a visual on how to do something rather than reading written steps.

Heather Johnson is a division manager at Interstates Control Systems Inc., a certified member of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA). For more information about Interstates Control Systems, visit its profile on the Industrial Automation Exchange.


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