Today, control systems are more complicated than ever before. With this change comes the need to have a specialized team to support the system and ensure your plant operates at peak efficiency. Systems collect and analyze a lot of data which means that networks must be bulletproof and databases must be fully optimized and backed up. In most cases, the control systems are connected to the outside world and/or corporate networks which requires more cybersecurity work to protect against attacks. We also see a wide variety of technologies being used at plants that need highly trained support technicians to keep them on-line 24x7x365. We have found the proactive support option to be much more effective than a break-fix type support.
Down time is ultimately lost opportunity. We have found proactive support to be a great option for our clients. Of course down time incidents can potentially still occur; however, we can reduce their number, frequency, and help ensure incidents are short lived.
A few of the proactive things that should be considered include:
- Monitoring operating system, HMI and database error logs on client systems.
- Monitoring network capacity utilization as well as controller processor utilization.
- Monitoring regularly scheduled backup jobs to make sure they complete and are verified accurate.
- Monitoring run times on database stored procedures to know when they need to be optimized.
- Watching for equipment that may have been placed in manual mode instead of automatic that may cause a system upset or even potentially critical interlock bypassing that may cause damage to equipment if an upset condition should happen.
- It is also a good idea to revisit critical control PID loops on at least an annual basis to retune them and ensure both better quality of end products and higher throughput.
- Notifying the client of outdated hardware or software that may no longer be supported.
- Watching for operator training issues that can be causing system malfunctions.
- Other things that can be done proactively would be monitoring the system for potential Cybersecurity incidents.
The primary goal of proactive support is to ensure system up-time and success is dependent upon a fully functioning system. As you can imagine, this takes a dedicated and highly trained team to understand all the nuances of a system. If you are struggling to keep your current control system running at optimum efficiency, you may want to consider a proactive approach to support.
Questions? Ready to get started? Contact us now! Call 712-722-1662 to speak with one of our Control Systems experts or click here to email us. Our team is ready to answer your questions and assist you with your next project.
Jeff Miller, Interstates Director of Project Management