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Upgrading PLC5 Automation Platforms to Logix5000

The need to upgrade existing PLC5 (or SLC500) systems to Logix5000 has become more pressing with Allen-Bradley’s assignment of the PLC5 family to its Silver Series. Silver Series is Allen-Bradley’s indication that while components are still available for purchase, they will soon be discontinued.
Considering the universal popularity of the PLC5, it can be assumed that the demand for replacement parts will very quickly outstrip the limited supply once new units are no longer available for sale.
Fortunately, in most applications, the upgrade path to Logix5000 is straightforward, provided some planning is done in advance. This 2 part blog series will outline some of the key decision points and recommendations for a successful upgrade program.

Project Planning

In most cases, the upgrade will have no net effect on the operation of the system, which is to say production rates, OEE, quality, and other metrics will be the same before and after the upgrade. This means that the primary criteria for selecting and prioritizing upgrade candidates are size, complexity, interfaces (discussed in more detail below), and available downtime windows.
It is most efficient if one (or more) upgrade teams consistently perform the work throughout a facility.
It is critical to understand beforehand exactly what needs to be considered in the upgrade. HMIs and other clients will need to be adjusted to communicate to the new PLC. Other PLCs connected to the upgrade subject will need to have Message instructions modified. Remote I/O or DH+ networks for drives, remote racks, and other devices need to be replicated, or upgraded to Ethernet.
Unlike a typical automation project, the design and testing phases for an upgrade can be significantly curtailed. When the Allen-Bradley software conversion utility is used, there is minimal development of new code, and the programmers doing the upgrade do not need to be expert in the process application.
This is a double edged sword, because while the engineering costs will be greatly reduced as compared to a typical project, it also means the automation team will not have the same level of familiarity with the system as if they had developed it from scratch. For this reason, it is very important to have plant personnel who are familiar with the operation of the upgraded system assisting with the startup. In part 2 we will discuss the software and interface needs as well as the training necessary for a successful upgrade.

Serialization’s a-Comin’!

With the start of 2013 we take a moment to anticipate what changes lie ahead for our industry and what impact they will have in the new year and beyond. Have you considered the impact that Serialization will play?
Serialization is to play a huge role in reducing the global proliferation of substandard, spurious, falsely-labeled, falsified, and counterfeit (SSFFC) drugs. SSFFC drugs can lack active ingredients, include incorrect ingredients, not have enough active ingredients, or even have too much of an active ingredient. Due to the clandestine and illegal nature of the manufacture and distribution of SSFFC drugs, the global breadth and scope the SSFFC problem is hard to quantify and harder still to contain and stop. What “IS” known is the public health risks of using SSFFC drugs. Here are a few:

  • Illness or injury treatment failure
  • Increased resistance to disease or virus infection
  • Sickness and death


What is Serialization?

Typically, an individual drug carton has a label with the drug name, company’s name (or logo), lot number, and expiration date. In order to prevent SSFFC drugs from being manufactured, distributed, and used there must be a way to determine that a drug ‘unit’ (an example would be a small carton containing a bottle of eye drops) was made by the drug manufacturer listed on the label and that the contents match the label. Other than looking at the label (which could be a counterfeit), how can anyone really know that the drug is what the carton and label say it is? An electronic pedigree (e-pedigree) is one way to really know.
An e-pedigree is a verifiable file that tracks the ownership of a drug from initial manufacture through the supply and distribution chain all the way to a pharmacy, hospital, or doctor’s office. This e-pedigree also includes returns, recalls, and the proper disposal of drugs that have passed the expiration date. In order for the e-pedigree to be effective, it must track and trace the drug down to the smallest package or saleable unit/carton. In this manner regulating agencies can determine not only where a unit/carton originated, who had it and when, but can also identify if a counterfeit unit/carton was inserted in the supply and distribution chain.
What is the mechanism to differentiate each individual package or saleable unit/carton from each other? One mechanism is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. RFID tags can certainly provide the ability to track and trace an individual unit, and RFID information on unit/carton whereabouts can be added to an e-pedigree; however, an RFID solution requires special equipment to make and program the RFID tag, affix the RFID tag to the unit/carton, and read and track the RFID tag at points in the packaging line. The orientation of the tag placement – as well as the tag reader with respect to the tag placement as it traverses the line – is also critical. In order to make a determination of the validity of the unit/carton later in the distribution chain, an RFID tag reader would be required.
Serialization is the generation of a unique identification number that is added to the unit/carton, case, and pallet labels in the packaging line. The inspection stations keep track of the individual serial numbers on the unit/cartons and provide that information to the track and trace e-pedigree system. Although a serialization e-pedigree solution will be costly to implement, the cost impact is mitigated by the fact that packaging line printers and inspection stations already exist; labels are already being affixed to cartons, cases, and pallets.
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For additional information in reference to Serialization and how Avanceon can help support you in the process please email