Distributed Control Systems, also known as DCS, can be in use for about 20-30 years. This means that many plants are running on obsolete and unsupported systems. During the 80’s and 90’s many plants implemented control systems so many are on their end of life. These plants need to start planning the replacement of their DCS in the comming years, because at a certian point, a very small issue can cause an unplanned stop.
The first challenge is to get an overview of the upcoming costs. You should think about new hardware, new software, engineering, construnction, training, updating plant documentation, et cetera.
When making an overview of the cost and defining the scope, it is important to inform and involve everybody that has something to do with the current DCS and upcoming replacement. Involve all stakeholders like engineers, people of operations department, maintenance department, management, et cetera.
DCS replacement creates opportunities
A big opportunity that arises during a DCS replacement, is that it creates opportunities to make big improvements to your controlling process. Think about optimizations that can yield a higher return on investment (ROI), increase safety and environmental controls, implement modern cybersecurity, modernize HMIs (like touchscreen interfaces), improve alarm management, newer SCADA, et cetera.
Besides the fact that a DCS replacement is a big project, at the end you will have a system that is much more safer, easier to operate, more secure, more energy efficient and recent documentation which improves maintenance.