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Case Studies

Legacy Conversion Program

Cimtec offers a program to allow you to replace your older PLCs before they fail with new PLC systems that can mesh with and leverage the strengths of today's manufacturing control systems.

Today's “modern” factories often contain a variety of legacy hardware and equipment that has been in service for over 30 years. One of the most commonly found components is the programmable logic controller. This manufacturing workhorse controls many critical functions that move parts through assembly lines and inspection stations.

PLCs installed 30 years ago are often functioning just as well now as they did when they were installed. The PLC products manufactured by leading companies such as Allen-Bradley and GE Fanuc are high-quality components and designed to be reliable.

While older PLCs are reliable, they can't meet the needs of today's production control systems. Current manufacturing control schemes involve Windows-based computer systems and Ethernet-based communications, and it is often difficult to integrate legacy PLCs into these new systems. It may seem counterintuitive to upgrade a system that is working perfectly, but eventually these PLCs will fail, and extensive downtime will be required to specify and install a modern replacement.

Cimtec offers a program to allow you to replace your older PLCs before they fail with new PLC systems that can mesh with and leverage the strengths of today's manufacturing control systems. Cimtec has the ability to bring legacy control systems up to date for just about any manufacturer. Cimtec can upgrade hardware within the same manufacturer (such as GE Fanuc), or switch from one manufacturer to another (such as Allen-Bradley to GE Fanuc), depending on the specific requirements of your system.

Advantages of Modern PLC Systems

Even though your legacy PLCs may be doing their job, there are a variety of features and benefits associated with modern PLCs:

  • Ethernet communication – Ethernet provides a simple, consistent communication protocol for all of your devices
  • Diagnostics – Modern PLCs can be monitored remotely using online performance measurements
  • Windows-Based Platform – Today's PLCs are compatible with Windows-based hardware, allowing you to use one operating system across your plant. Interoperability allows systems to work together more easily.
  • Improved Memory – Improvements in hardware technology means that newer hardware has far greater memory and data storage capacity. In addition, a greater amount of data can be collected and saved, allowing you to get a better performance picture of your system.

Taking Advantage of Cimtec's Conversion Program

The premises of personal and production efficiency have been practiced for centuries. Henry Ford was one of the first to apply these principles to manufacturing lines. However, the true forerunner to lean manufacturing was the Toyota Production System (TPS), pioneered by Taiichi Ohno, Shigeo Shingo and Eiji Toyoda. TPS, also known as “just-in-time production”, was conceived after a trip to America to view the Ford assembly lines. The Japanese were not impressed with the inefficiencies of the Ford lines, particularly the uneven workloads, large amount of stored inventories, and large amounts of rework that were often required. However, after visiting a local supermarket, and learning how the supermarket maintains its inventory by only replacing items that are purchased, the Toyota team adapted this concept to automobile manufacturing and their relationships with suppliers.

The term “lean manufacturing” was first used by John Krafcik in the 1988 article, "Triumph of the Lean Production System," in the Sloan Management Review. Krafcik had been employed in a California Toyota production facility prior to attending graduate school at MIT, and based his thesis on the processes implemented at that plant.

Lean manufacturing is often most closely associated with automobile manufacturing. However, just about every large volume production facility in every industry uses lean manufacturing concepts, and even smaller volume production facilities implement many lean manufacturing processes to help reduce production costs.

Lean Manufacturing Tools

Cimtec's extensive experience with manufacturing systems allows them to quickly assess your current hardware system and develop a replacement PLC system that meets the requirements of your current production needs while allowing room for your capacity to grow. Here is how the Cimtec conversion process works:

  • Gathering background information about your system – Cimtec needs a snapshot of your current system in order to properly design a replacement system. You'll need to send the following information:
    • Information on the legacy system hardware, including number of units, I/O modules, and CPU
    • Information on your CPU program – The software for your legacy PLC should be able to generate a copy of your CPU program. If you need assistance with this, Cimtec engineers can assist you.

  • Building a replacement system – Cimtec takes the information that you provide and assembles a new PLC system with parts that exactly match the configuration of your legacy system. This also includes:
    • Converting your CPU program to match the new hardware and testing the program in the laboratory to ensure proper operation before installation.
    • Installing the new hardware in your plant. The modules in the new system will match up with the configuration of the old modules in order to minimize your required infrastructure upgrades.
    • Supplying a complete wiring schematic for I/O modules and power supplies, and instructions to show how the new system components connect to the existing infrastructure
    • Troubleshooting the system to ensure it is working properly.
    • Providing training to your production personnel.

Cimtec has worked with a variety of customers in many industries to update their PLC systems. Cimtec's engineers and technicians are highly experienced in all of the major PLC equipment brands, and can quickly develop a plan to upgrade your legacy systems. The table below outlines some of the legacy PLC systems and current PLC/PAC systems that Cimtec engineers can work with. Update your legacy PLC systems before they fail, and avoid weeks of downtime.

Legacy PLC Systems Current PLC/PAC systems
Allen-Bradley PLC-2 Allen-Bradley SLC 500
Allen-Bradley PLC-3 Allen-Bradley ControlLogix
Allen-Bradley PLC-5 Allen-Bradley MicroLogix
GE Fanuc Series One GE Fanuc 90-30
GE Fanuc Series Three GE Fanuc 90-70
GE Fanuc Series Five GE Fanuc Versamax
GE Fanuc Series Six GE Fanuc Rx3i
GE Fanuc Field Control GE Fanuc Rx7i
Siemens 405 Siemens S7-300
Siemens 505 Siemens S7-400
Siemens S5  
TI/Siemens 305  

Note: GE Fanuc dissolved the joint venture (GE Company and Fanuc Ltd.) at the end of 2009. They are now called GE Intelligent Platforms.

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