Bringing older machines up to date

Retrofit as an opportunity

When systems have seen better days, action is needed. Often numerous parts in the control cabinet are outdated. Once central automation components such as the control system have been discontinued, the clock starts ticking. A timely retrofit avoids a costly total breakdown. And it opens up the opportunity to benefit from the possibilities of digitalization.

Older systems that are intended to run for a few more years should undergo a retrofit. Everything that can be planned ahead is less expensive than any ad-hoc action. This applies particularly if some of the electrical components are outdated and difficult to replace, the next unplanned machine breakdown could thus result in high costs.

Important for you 
  • If electronic components become outdated, it is worthwhile considering a retrofit of the control system.
  • Once the key components have been discontinued, there is a need for action.
  • As part of a retrofit, Optima offers a thorough analysis of the overall automation structure.
  • This could result in a recommendation for modernization depending on the customer's objectives, for example the planned continued machine run time.
  • If a machine is to continue running for a long time yet, the transition to Industry 4.0 is achieved by using the latest generation of controls.
  • The “Electric Care” offensive demonstrates the multiple possibilities of a professional retrofit.
The modernization of the system runs as planned so that temporary production downtimes usually can be buffered.
Act early instead of reacting

Action is therefore required. Team leader Andreas Noller is responsible for the organization in the Optima Consumer electrical technology service department. He and his team handle the retrofits of customers' systems. It is not only a matter of swapping discontinued components one for one for modern ones. Noller explains: “If the machine has been running for several years, then the overall electrical technology is outdated.”

The operator's plans determine what needs to be done. In addition to an inventory, the retrofit specialists in Noller's team also carry out a needs assessment and submit a recommendation. If the customer only wants to operate the machine for a short time, they just need to hold the replacement parts of the discontinued components in stock. If the customer wants to continue production for a few more years, the recommendation veers towards a comprehensive retrofit of the control system. In this case, completely new control cabinets will be built and tested at Optima. The retrofit will be carried out on the machine in the shortest time possible.

Customers are really surprised sometimes by what their “old” machine can achieve with the latest technology. They are delighted by the increased output possible with a retrofit. Often the new control cabinets are also significantly smaller due to their higher performance density, which makes space available in production. It also means the peripheral equipment, for example the product feed, can be integrated in the control concept and operated in future via a central HMI.

Future-proof in the age of digitalization

The potential for digitalization associated with a modern control system can be reason enough for a retrofit. It supports remote control, so allows online access by the service staff. In many cases, faults can be rectified remotely after the upgrade.

Industry 4.0 also offers new possibilities in data analysis and diagnosis as a basis for process optimization and predictive maintenance. Additionally, the latest generation of PLCs allow the machines to be connected to the MES and ERP systems. This means the retrofit ensures parts availability of the machine and thus overall equipment effectiveness for years to come. State-of-the-art automation leads to Industry 4.0 and thus ensures future-proofing. As part of the “Electric Care” offensive, Optima will present the extensive opportunities resulting from the retrofit to its customers in the months ahead.

Two employees at a laptop in front of a machine
If systems are re-equipped with the latest technology, service staff will be able to quickly analyze and fix any sources of error remotely in future.
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