Do you lose sleep thinking about the aging equipment in your manufacturing facility, wondering if and when it will cause costly downtime? Last August I wrote an article titled “Aging Equipment” with advice to stop ignoring your aging automation electronics and realize the potential threat they pose to your operation. This time I want to focus on a piece of legacy equipment that can and should be updated — the Allen-Bradley® Legacy PanelView™. An upgrade of this particular piece of equipment is both easy to implement and provides real benefits.
The Allen-Bradley® legacy PanelView™, also referred to as the “black bezel”, is no longer available new from Allen-Bradley. The black bezel can be sent in for repair, but repair costs are high and the turnaround time can be significant. These two facts alone make the legacy PanelView™ a good candidate for replacement.
You may be thinking that the investment in developing new graphics may be too great. Updating the controls at the same time may not in be the budget and you fear that the conversion work going to a new PanelView™ could be wasted. You may rationalize that you could just take your chances on a breakdown if it seems you do not have an economical alternatives. Besides, retraining operators on new graphics can be daunting and would just add more expense to an upgrade.
These fears about expense, the loss of effort when the control system is upgraded or that operator re-training will be required may not be completely accurate. It is true that some portion of the investment may be lost during future controls upgrades, if the current budget does not allow for a controls upgrade now. However, that cost may not be as high as imagined, especially since the risk of continuing to use the outdated PanelView™, and having an unexpected failure, may be far more expensive. Don’t forget, unscheduled downtime can be very costly.
Some things to consider: What if the majority of the cost for a PanelView™ upgrade was in the new hardware, and the new hardware cost was about the same as repairing the old unit? And, what if that cost included getting a bigger operator screen and more capabilities? Also, new hardware can be used later when the controls upgrade occurs. In some cases, buying new hardware is actually less than repairing the old unit because Allen-Bradley® wants you in new hardware.
Converting a legacy PanelView™ program to a new PanelView™ Plus is not as difficult and labor intensive as one might think and will not require operator re-training. The Rockwell Automation PanelView™ Plus programming software can import an old program. Used with a touchscreen PanelView™ Plus, the program conversion can be done in a few hours by experienced personnel, and will look much the same as the old program. Since the look and feel is the same as the old program, no operator training is not required. No conversion is ever perfect, so the areas to address increase with the complexity of the original program and, as is true with any task, the more complex the old program is, the more time will be required to convert. Also, bear in mind that the more complex the program is the longer and more costly the downtime will be, should a failure occur.
The physical installation difficulty varies depending on the replacement model that is chosen. Installation is typically simple, but panel modifications may be necessary. In some cases a bigger opening in the enclosure is required or an adapter plate may needed. Some adapters are available from Allen-Bradley®.
It does not matter if you have a simple machine and just need the most basic conversion or have a complex machine that eventually will involve major upgrades, addressing the risk of potential failure in a relaxed time frame is always less expensive and more successful than one implemented while in a rush. Emergency service fees, freight, overtime, unscheduled downtime, etc. can add up quickly. When the conversion to a new PanelView™ is complete, you will have a platform that is easier to use, easier to modify and more capable, while including the added benefit of remote access. Knowing this should help you relax and get some sleep. Until the thought of “What is next?” creeps in, but that is a discussion for another day.
Photo Credit: The Automation Blog
Allen-Bradley and PanelView are trademarks of Rockwell Automation, Inc.