Should you consider an automation installed base evaluation?

Control system failures are a possibility for which we need to be aware and prepared. One way to prepare for a failure in the system is to perform an automation system installed base evaluation. A good evaluation is more than just creating an inventory of your parts; it is a detailed analysis of your critical plant assets and the conditions of these components. It also allows you to develop a proactive strategy to obtain life cycle data on your aging equipment, thus allowing you to understand what is current, outdated, or even obsolete.

As your control system ages, you need to identify, mitigate, and eliminate the obsolescence risks associated with a dated system. As automation products approach their expected end of life, the availability of the parts and resources to support these products becomes a challenge. The financial consequences of extended downtimes due to failed, obsolete components must also be considered. A proactive strategy will allow you to consider options to migrate products to newer technologies that are more easily obtained and supported and will increase your uptime and financial returns by ensuring that critical spares are readily available.

A good installed base evaluation will include these essential steps:

1. Field Collection

Develop a systematic model for data collection. Including an on-site review of electrical installed base with a focus on critical processes and machines.

2. Analysis

Off-site processing to determine plant life cycle risks, maintenance, repair, and operations inventory status. Determination of recommended inventory levels.

3. Delivery of Reports/Recommendations

Delivery of the analysis to provide the recommendations and start the action plans. Reporting to detail what is installed, missing, and equipment that is nearing the end of its life or is already in legacy status.

4. Implementation

Implement processes to improve productivity and lower costs by maintaining proper inventory levels, documenting lifecycle status, and replacing legacy components.

Along with these essential steps, some additional actions to consider during a system evaluation would include: identification of environmental conditions in which the equipment is installed, identification of installation issues, and evaluation of the current state of the control system documentation.

Considering undergoing an installed base evaluation for your control system? Interstates can help. If your control system is aging and you do not have a plan in place to deal with unexpected, but inevitable, failures in the system, this proactive, strategic approach may help you limit the downtime of your facility.


Jeff White, Interstates Director of Technical Services