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The action of a co-packer is sometimes stressful. As a corporation, we appetite to consistently be in a position to acknowledge to an abrupt opportunity. We accept managed to accumulate ourselves in the artefact beck over the years by actuality able to acknowledge to the challenges that appear our way and, in best situations, administer to accomplish it assume like it is easy. The action in the accomplishments is annihilation but easy, and we consistently acquisition means to drag heartbeats, if alone for a little while. One such befalling afresh fell into our laps, and we accept set out on a new adventure of assay and understanding.

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If there is one affair I accept abstruse over my 30-some years in this business, it is that companies ability appear and go, but the machines aftermost forever.

I’m not talking about article from the time of the Romans, but it isn’t all that aberrant to appear beyond a apparatus that was congenital in the ’60s or ’70s and is still bearing artefact today. It speaks volumes to the adroitness of the aboriginal designers that the accessories is still in account today.

The bequest of these arch machines is they are mechanically outliving their electrical components. Technology, as we able-bodied know, is advancing at ever-increasing rates. What was accompaniment of the art 40-50 years ago is now little added than a baiter anchor. The apparatus still works, but the ascendancy belvedere that runs it has become obsolete. At what point do we activity the hornets’ backup and attack to amend the controls?

In a nod of account to my aloft career as a architect of aboriginal equipment, I would say that the aboriginal access of assay should consistently be the OEM of your machine. Afterwards all, who knows the apparatus bigger than the association that produced it in the aboriginal place? Well, as we afresh begin out, sometimes a affiliation to that OEM is no best active, or, if it is, it is alone as a bequest abutment provided by the association that bought out the OEM at some point in the past. The best you ability get in a bearings like this is a set of prints from aback the apparatus was aboriginal produced or, if you are lucky, a added contempo set from the aftermost accepted owner, if the antecedent buyer is still in business.

Our adventure started aloof over a year ago, aback we begin out about a bulb abreast us that produced a actual agnate artefact architecture but in beyond dimensions. This bulb was closing, and the accessories was to be awash at auction.

Forward thinking, as we tend to be, we anticipation it would be account our while to analyze through the account and see which items ability be of approaching use to us. There was a lot of accouterment that was of the aforementioned blazon and best as the ones we had in our inventory, but two that stood out were accumbent cartoners that, at the time of the bulb closing, were operational and bearing some beyond architecture bag-in-box cartons.

We jumped into the bid action and, to our delight, managed to get both machines at a atom of the amount of a new one. It was about a steal, and we were aflame to get these machines relocated to our ability and accord them a acceptable attractive over.

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“One apparatus had a accepted ascendancy platform, ControlLogix, and the additional had an beforehand platform, PLC-5.”

Oddly, the two were produced aloof bristles years apart, so, while they were of agnate best mechanically, the ascendancy systems were radically different. As it would happen, the beforehand apparatus with the PLC-5 would be the one that would aboriginal clothing an accessible befalling to alter into a altered artefact band than we had ahead produced. Recognizing that the PLC-5 was an beforehand platform, we did some accident assay to actuate if we would appetite to barrage a new accumulation band with such a belvedere in place. The acknowledgment bound became a no.

We were already abashed to go with befitting the belvedere because we didn’t accept a distinct allotment of accessories in our account that acclimated a PLC-5, so that would mean, at the actual least, new programming software to be able to get online and troubleshoot, not to acknowledgment any alterations to clothing our new accumulation configuration.

The chief agency for us was the actuality that the admirable PLC-5 belvedere was clearly retired in June 2017. The bell-ringer no best offered abutment for the platform, and any accouterments or software would accept to be purchased on the accessible bazaar via e-commerce.

So, what do we do with our new purchase, and how do we accord it a new charter on life? Best vendors would be blessed to adduce a new PLC platform. The hardware, afterwards all, is appealing accessible to advancement by artlessly acrimonious the adapted belvedere and again allotment I/O modules that bout the absolute ones. Sometimes, one alike gets advantageous and can aces these out as a one-to-one swap—ac bore for ac module, dc for dc, agenda for digital, analog for analog. The bolt is usually in the accessories.

This accurate machine, for example, acclimated a amalgam accession bore for the resolver on the basic aeon shaft. There wasn’t a avant-garde adaptation of this module, so a new way of accouterment position acknowledgment would accept to be ample out.

For us, the easiest way was to leave out the resolver bore and alter the resolver itself with an Ethernet I/P encoder that would acquaint anon with the new processor.

Another bolt was the aftermarket backup of the accepted abettor console with a Wonderware thin-client display. While this is abundant technology, it isn’t article that we currently use in our inventory, and, after the aboriginal files and a ample amount outlay for affairs development software, it wasn’t article that we could use. Finally, some of the additions to the apparatus included the use of Remote I/O, addition best technology that has been retired from alive abutment by the vendor.

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What I’ve declared aloft are some of the acute affidavit why best customer artefact producers would shy abroad from affairs acclimated equipment. The advancement of packaging accouterment is best larboard in the easily of professionals whose business it is to accomplish such machines appear aback to action aback the ascendancy arrangement becomes obsolete. For those beneath aside of heart, coast into a apple-pie or advancement can additionally be a advantageous acquaintance area abounding acquaint are abstruse that can be transferred to added projects. Alike the analysis into what is complex in bringing new action to best accessories can be advantageous in and of itself.

The PLC-5 belvedere has been about a actual continued time. The makers of it, Rockwell Automation (Allen-Bradley) accustomed absolutely some time ago that there would appear a day aback the technology was aloof too old to abutment economically.

The newer PAC technologies larboard the PLC-5 belvedere abaft a continued time ago, but, as mentioned earlier, aback article works for decades, it is adamantine to absolve alteration it out aloof because a newer technology is available. Any change of belvedere is activity to appear with some basic expense.

Rockwell Automation has invested a lot of activity and assets into advancing up with means to alteration from the best platforms to the newer ones, and these methods are account advertence actuality as they accept abundant amount for appliance aback attempting such a project. Like best advancement projects, there are a brace of options.

One adjustment is to accumulate the absolute I/O arrangement and accept a new PLC that can acquaint with the beforehand I/O. In the bearings I accept declared above, this absolutely isn’t an advantage for a brace of reasons. First, there isn’t a way to alter the PLC with a communications agenda that would again acquaint with the new PLC or PAC. And, second, there is the bequest Remote I/O communications that is additionally obsolete.

Another adjustment is to absolutely alter the old arrangement with a new system. This seems to be the cleanest access from a accouterments standpoint but can be absolutely costly. There is additionally the appliance of a change in programming belvedere and software. Fortunately, best vendors, including Rockwell Automation, do action adaptation software that will booty the aboriginal programming software and catechumen it into the new platform.

This is not after pitfalls as not aggregate converts anon and some time is bare to adjust through the affairs and apple-pie up the ambiguous parts. For example, timers that were 1.0 or 0.01 time abject charge to be adapted into 0.001 base. Some instructions don’t accept absolute replacements in the newer belvedere and charge be coded by hand. The resultant, adapted affairs will attending agnate to the aboriginal but assume aberrant aback best newer platforms are tag-based, admitting the beforehand ones were register-based.

The final adjustment is a bit of a amalgam but can absolutely advice out if one needs to get the ascendancy arrangement active as anon as possible. That adjustment involves converting the appliance as in the aloft adjustment but uses a able base translator appliance hardware.

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In this method, the 1771-based I/O arrangement of the PLC-5 is reassigned to the ControlLogix platform, bore by module. There is software to accommodate abetment with this process. The arrangement advised by Rockwell Automation starts with affairs all the base accoutrements off the 1771 I/O and removing the aback even of the I/O rack.

A new “rack” again gets installed appliance the aforementioned ascent screws as the original. About-face modules again go in the new arbor that interface with the old 1771-series base arms. A awning bowl absolute the new PLC arbor and modules again screws assimilate the face of the about-face rack, and base adapters again affix the about-face arbor connectors to the I/O modules of the new rack. The PLC affairs is again downloaded, and you are off to the races. The abundant affair about this adjustment is you absorb all your aboriginal base but get a cast new ambassador platform.

All of this new technology comes at a cost, of course. The best expensive, as you ability imagine, is the aftermost adjustment with the about-face rack. All of that accouterments is expensive, but, as the bell-ringer says, one can do a concrete about-face in as little as an hour. I would apprehend the re-commissioning of the software appliance to booty some time, however.

The adjustment area alone the PLC changes and one retains the aboriginal I/O arbor and modules is the atomic big-ticket but does action the accident that at some point the I/O modules in the aboriginal arbor will go bad and charge to be replaced from an ever-dwindling basin of accessible parts.

The third method, and the one we chose to use, was to alter the PLC in its absoluteness with a new ascendancy platform. We chose the CompactLogix as we don’t charge the abounding ability of a ControlLogix to do the aforementioned action as the PLC-5 did aloof accomplished for 40 years. We did charge to buy an Ethernet encoder and a new variable-frequency drive (VFD)—the old one was a 1336 drive, and it would accept been chancy to accumulate this 20-year-old drive in the new system—but got abroad with aloof replacing the Remote I/O communications bore with an Ethernet adaptation in the Flex I/O adder console that we discovered.

The assignment in all of this is don’t be abashed of new technology. Accomplish abiding that you accept acceptable conversations with your accouterments vendors as there is generally a adjustment to drift from the beforehand platforms to newer ones. There is some accident in these adventures, but the aftereffect is a arrangement that should aftermost addition 20 or so years and added than pay for the investment. The added benefit for our aggregation was the acquaintance that we acquired while activity through this process.

Those of us who were accustomed with the beforehand accouterments abstruse how abundant absolutely backward the aforementioned with the newer platform. The added things change, the added they break the same. The key, as mentioned, is to accumulate accessible chat with your accessories vendors.You may acquisition yourself in the adequate position of giving your admired accessories a new charter on life.

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Rick Rice is a controls architect at Crest Foods, a dry-foods accomplishment and packaging aggregation in Ashton, Illinois. With about 30 years’ acquaintance in the acreage of automation, Rice has advised and programmed aggregate from automotive assembly, robots, palletizing and depalletizing equipment, conveyors and basic machines for the plastics industry but best of his career has focused on OEM in the packaging accouterment industry with a focus on R&D for custom applications. Contact him at rrice@putman.net.

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