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Posted by Julie Gruenholz

A Note for Mechanical Engineers

December 12, 2019

Don’t be afraid of the PLC programmer or the control system software. She is just translating your sequence of operations into a language that the machine understands.

Here are links to the other blogs in this series:

6 Questions to Ask When Upgrading an Obsolete Control System While Keeping Your Plant Running

KISS and 5 Other Items to Consider when Choosing to Upgrade Your PLC Platform

Replacing Your Obsolete Control System. Step 1 – Replace the SCADA

Replacing Your Obsolete Control System.  Step 2 – Upgrade the PLC Hardware

Replacing Your Obsolete Control System.  Step 3 – Key Considerations when choosing the new SCADA/HMI.

Upgrading your obsolete control system - Why and how to ground your ungrounded control system before a system upgrade.

It has been my experience that typically a control system is upgraded when a plant has mechanical upgrade needs. This usually means that you, the mechanical engineer, has acquired funds to make some mechanical improvement, so you are the major stakeholder.  You may have some concerns:

  • Do you feel like although your great idea and new equipment has been meticulously designed that its ultimate quality and functionality is left in the hands of some programmer who does not have your knowledge or passion for the project?
  • Do you feel like she is typing random, undecipherable gibberish into a black box?
  • Do you feel like it is not in your wheelhouse to understand this weird language of icons and numbers?
  • Do you feel like this is the point where you will completely lose control of your masterpiece?

Don’t fear, she speaks the same language as you, she just also speaks the language that your new equipment understands.

Hopefully you have some trust in your programmer, but that can’t really be earned until you see the equipment actually work. Don’t worry, she is not going to screw up your new equipment. She is not coming up with some new way to run your machine. She will not introduce anything new or delete anything from your specified sequence of operation. She is not figuring out how to run your equipment, she is simply a translator.

Instead of you explaining to someone in a foreign country, through a language translator, how your equipment should work, you are explaining to the machine, through the use of a programmer, how you wish it to perform. Think of your programmer as just someone who can speak to your machine in its language and explain to it how you want it to work.

So, please don’t be afraid of the human handling the software portion of your project. Your programmer is similar to a translator at the United Nations and is completely on your side.

 

About the Author

Julie Gruenholz is a Senior Control Systems Engineer for Hallam-ICS. As an Electrical Engineer, she has been designing, installing, modifying and programming control systems since 1991.

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About Hallam-ICS

Hallam-ICS is an engineering and automation company that designs MEP systems for facilities and plants, engineers control and automation solutions, and ensures safety and regulatory compliance through arc flash studies, commissioning, and validation. Our offices are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and North Carolina and our projects take us world-wide.

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Topics: Process Control and Plant Automation

Julie Gruenholz

By Julie Gruenholz

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December 12, 2019

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