Which platform should I use?

When I was able to choose a controls platform myself, there were 5 factors I would consider when evaluating a new system.

10/20/2014


When I worked for automation distributors I was required to promote and recommend only the products that the distributor sold. This sometimes caused a conflict of interest: is this the most appropriate solution for this application? The first distributor I worked for sold Omron and Eagle-Signal PLCs. If I was in a plant that was full of Allen-Bradley controls this could be a tough sell... the customer usually had a significant investment in both hardware and training particular to A-B. In his case he was tired of paying for the yearly software licenses that Allen-Bradley charges hundreds of dollars for. Of course there was no economical way for either of us to do this, so the plant remained A-B.

The next company I worked for was an Allen-Bradley distributor. As a product specialist I learned that A-B required all of their distributors to staff several technical specialists and of course this costs money. In return Allen-Bradley distributors get protected territories and the customers get support and training on their products.

When I started my own automation company I generally had to use whatever the plant specified. This required having a lot of different software packages and of course paying the dreaded support fees to both Allen-Bradley and Siemens. There were occasions however where I was able to choose a controls platform myself. There were a variety of factors I would consider when evaluating a new system:

  1. Existing hardware, software and training. Is there already a majority of one type of controller in the plant? Do the maintenance and engineering departments like it and are they trained? How much support will they need?
  2. Cost. How much is the customer willing to spend to implement the solution?
  3. Spare parts. Are replacement components readily available in the local area?
  4. Suitability. Will a micro PLC do the job? Will there be a large amount of data that will need to be recorded and analyzed? Will the processor be fast enough/have enough memory? Are special purpose cards such as high resolution analog, servo or math/basic required? 
  5. Ease of programming. Is the software user-friendly? Are there special purpose instructions or functions to make programming easier?

All of these things would have an impact on the platform I would choose.



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Integrated mobility; Artificial intelligence; Predictive motion control; Sensors and control system inputs; Asset Management; Cybersecurity
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me