Justification of a DCS Migration: What’s the ROI?

Financial justification of migrating your DCS

For many process plants it is inevitable to recognize the need of migrating an old distributed control system (DCS) to a new control system. The decision-making for the migration process is dependent of many factors, including the financial justification to the people that own the company purse. They need to see a return of investment (ROI) before they make the decision to invest in the migration to a new DCS. In order to do this, a comparison needs to be made between the cost of continuing with the current (old) DCS and migrating to a new DCS. Many factors are crucial determinants in this financial analysis and together they are forming the total cost of ownership (TCO).

Both for the current DCS and the new DCS the TCO needs to be determined. The expected expenses for the new DCS need to include several factors. A table presented in an article from Rockwell Automation shows the different factors that form the TCO.

TCO components

Purchase price
Cost to integrate into balance of plant
Required maintenance
Spare parts acquisition and stocking
Changeover time
Off spec product due to quality issues
Energy to run the system
Throughput less than optimal
Cyber security compliance
Integration to other plant automation/information systems
Long term support


Another table presented in the same article from Rockwell Automation shows the benefits of migrating to a new distributed control system.

Benefits of migrating to a new DCS

Reduced maintenance
Less downtime
Enhanced data collection and analysis capabilities
Ability to integrate other control/information systems
Quicker product changeovers
Fewer manual operations required
Improved quality
Less energy required
Increased throughput
Advanced process control capability
Built-in cyber security features

Comparing both tables gives you an idea of the factors that influence the decision to either start migrating to a new DCS or keeping the old DCS. This article is based on the original article by Rockwell Automation, which you can find here: http://literature.rockwellautomation.com/idc/groups/literature/documents/wp/proces-wp005_-en-p.pdf