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Retrofits--what do you look for???

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Hi people!


We wanted to ask our user community a few questions:

  • Do you find yourself doing a lot of retrofits?
  • More or less than before?
  • What are your special considerations when doing a retrofit?
  • Any words of wisdom you'd care to share?

And of course, as always--if you've got a story to share, we'd love to hear it!


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  • MVP 2023

That's a large percentage of what we do. We will take a customer's system and upgrade it to add automation and intelligence to improve uptime & capability, reduce labor costs, and improve safety. The worst problem is getting accurate information about the components in the system, especially sensors. Further, while we build and test the retrofit components in the shop, when we take it to the field many unanticipated situations occur. The systems people in our company realized early on that it was important to bring the programmer along (me) on the install because there are often minor and even major changes that must be performed on the code to make it work properly on the customer's system. While that reduces some of the stress in getting the code right prior to the install, while we're at the customer site we have limited time and I must work quickly under pressure to get everything exactly right before we leave. It also provides the customer an opportunity to suggest minor changes to the software and user interface to provide them some customization. It's a challenging environment that I love.


One customer was looking at two alternatives to upgrading their chemical delivery system in their semiconductor wafer fab. Our competition required them to remove the system from their wafer fab and ship it overseas to be upgraded with a 6-8 week turnaround. We told them we would come into their plant, upgrade their system in place, and complete the work in 3-5 days. They didn't believe we could do that and were seriously considering both options until the group manager walked into a meeting looked at the two options and asked them why they were still considering our competition. We got the job, completed the task on time, and was awarded work on 8 additional systems. Before we started we were asked, "If you get finished and it doesn't work, can you put it back the way it was?" "Uh, no, but we won't leave until it's working perfectly". We've never yet failed to overcome the problems we've encountered. I'm not sure there is anyone else in the country that can do what we do routinely.

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But Seriously Now :P 

Do you find that there are recurring requirements for retrofits?

Maybe size, hardware features, communication requirements..?

Maybe a feature or functionality that was not incorporated into the the previous application, but that the customer would like to have in his retrofit? For example, is replacing a text display with a touchscreen a common requirement?

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  • MVP 2023

The most common recurring request on retrofits is remote control via the Internet and/or a phone app.  I realize this is a large security risk but people want it anyway.


I've noticed quite a few topics lately in the forums where people want their PLCs to act like PCs with data transfer and retrieval.  I realize that UniStream is the way to go on this, but we're not quite there with our available functionality.  I've been hesitant to jump in with both feet on a complex Unistream application because I don't want to get to 90% done and realize we don't yet have the capability to finish the job.  


Refer to post #2 - It has to work when I leave.


So I've been merrily chittering along with classic Vision product.  I was exited to see the webserver capability in the UniStream OS update, but I also managed to screw up the update on my unit so i put it aside for another day.  Something about the UniStream not wanting to play with my USB flash drive.


I need to go to one of the UniLogic seminars and get off my duff and focus.


Joe T.

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  • MVP 2023
Our most common request is for the PLC to be able to notify specific people when an alarm occurs, either by page, text message, or email. While we can certainly do that, there are certain recurring costs and requirements for that the customer rarely wants to pay (plus it's usually vetoed by the IT group). We do utilize Remote Operator from time-to-time to provide remote access, say at the engineer's desk, so that he can take a quick look at what's going on without having to make the trip to the process tool. When the PLC is located in a particularly remote or difficult to access location, we will very often provide (sell) a remote monitor box with it's own PLC that can be located anywhere. Customers seem to like this.


Another common request is to be able to provide data to the customer's SCADA or monitoring system. I like to use MODBUS IP for PLC-to-PLC communications and generally collect all the requested data at one PLC in a contiguous memory array then set that PLC up as a MODBUS slave using port 502. That always works well and has made many customers happy, particularly the ones who insist we use PLCs that match their system (often Siemens or A-B ). Our platform is currently Unitronics (Vision) and we won't quote anything else.


Often the system we are upgrading will have a touchscreen HMI (often Maple Systems or Beijer), but they are usually not full color. I try to use the color capability to add some wow factor and make the user interface much more intuitive. The one difficulty I tend to have is that the screen I'm replacing usually has 640x480 resolution and the V570 we typically use is only 320x240 (Cara has heard me complain about this before). On a big system we will occasionally use a V1210, but unless it's really necessary, we like to stay with the V570. I have developed a nice user interface for the V570 over the years that we tend to stick with on most products.

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  • 1 year later...

Hello everyone

I'm working to improve on old machines with upgrading PLC

No objections, I found an excellent solution price / possibility / requests Orderer
I built a couple of models V570, users have a very solid approach to use, given the conditions in which they are used.
Here is a positive story, the paper cutter that was destroyed in the floods in Bosnia in 2014, removed the complete original electronics and set V570.
The machine successfully rescued.


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