How to upgrade your control system with limited resources, budget

Take advantage of your system integrator’s time and expertise by allowing them to execute acceptance testing methods, freeing up plant personnel.

By Michael Ho December 23, 2014

Are you faced with limited resource and shrinking budget when upgrading your control system? You are not alone. Many of the customers we work with face the same challenges. One way to address both issues at the same time is to have effective factory acceptance testing (FAT) and site acceptance testing (SAT).

No matter what the scope is, the strategies to keep testing at a minimum while maintaining effectiveness remain the same. For FAT, those are:

  1. Agree on the FAT plan prior to the actual FAT. This will help to identify gaps and prepare for them.
  2. Let the system integrator test 100% on their internal testing and a sample size during FAT for non critical items such as tag description, engineering unit, I/O, and in some case, items that are unlikely to fail.

For SAT, there is no need to repeat every FAT. Instead, the following should be done:

  1. Spot check FATs that may have been affected after being installed at the plant
  2. Test every open item remaining from FAT
  3. Test items otherwise not possible during FAT or in a simulated environment.

By applying the methods described above, repeated tests are minimized and all verifications are executed. The system integrator’s time and expertise are maximized by allowing them to execute many tests on their own. In turn, this frees up plant personnel and allows them to do what they do best. That is to keep the plant running. Their time away from the plant and/or their normal tasks is minimized. The project overall cost is notably reduced.

If you are interested in some tips for a successful FAT, please have a short read on “Factory acceptance testing with system simulators” by Jeff Wood.

This post was written by Michel Ho. Michel is a consultant at MAVERICK Technologies, a leading automation solutions provider offering industrial automation, strategic manufacturing, and enterprise integration services for the process industries. MAVERICK delivers expertise and consulting in a wide variety of areas including industrial automation controls, distributed control systems, manufacturing execution systems, operational strategy, business process optimization and more.

MAVERICK Technologies is a CSIA member as of 3/5/2015