Legacy distributed control system migration methodology

  1. Verify current capabilities, documentation and hardware
  2. Define user requirements
  3. Develop migration strategy and plan
  4. Define system parameters, choose new platform
  5. Create functional specification
  6. Create detailed cutover plan
  7. Implementation and staging
  8. New system training and familiarization
  9. Demolition, installation and commissioning
  10. Documentation and support

Planning and executing a control system migration requires you to navigate between taking advantage of rare opportunities to improve plant performance while avoiding serious downsides. Whatever the ambitions and scale of your legacy DCS extension, migration or replacement, for most plant management teams these transitions present risks and challenges far outside the usual day-to-day or even year-to-year decision making.

At the least, you need to safely replace current capabilities. The new system needs to cost less to maintain and modify. In many instances, you'll need to produce detectible improvements in system reliability and plant productivity. And in all circumstances, you'll want to be handing off to production within the planned downtime window a working system.

How can your team get it right? By following the right steps.

Your biggest legacy migration risks?

  • Taking too long to gain expected performance—or never getting there.
  • Missing easy opportunities to improve reliability, quality or productivity.
  • Failing to familiarize and train operators and other plant personnel.
  • Over building or overspending for the new system.
  • Most significantly, causing unplanned shutdowns during and after cutover.

The solution? A well-grounded (a euphemism for having learned from mistakes) and systematic approach to migration decision-making and implementation. It’s like painting woodwork: no paint or technique can compensate for poor preparation.

There is an important difference: the consequences of poor migration planning are far more serious.

Still, every migration is different. We've done dozens of legacy control system migrations. No two go exactly the same. This is another reason why migration planning makes a difference.

Following proven steps will help you gain the best migration implementation, final system and operating results.

The legacy controls migration process. You’ll notice this methodology begins with verifying the system you currently have. The next step to determine what you want or must have for your new system. The third step is how to get there. Only in the fourth step do we focus in on new system selection.

Why? You might have already gone through your analysis and made the best choice for your operations. Otherwise, circumstances and needs should dictate system selection, not the other way around.

While one vendor's technology might be more suited to your operations or preferences, we’ve seen that you can usually get good results from any of today’s proven platforms.

If you lack the in-house expertise and staff to plan and execute a control system migration, the best place to find the service and support you need is at a system integrator with a track record of migration success.

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