Autopro Blog

Mitigating Downtime During a Programmable Logic Controller Migration

April 16, 2019


Upgrading Control Systems A Frequent Occurrence in Oil and Gas

During the last oil boom in Alberta, oil and gas companies were more focused on maximizing production than minimizing costs when it came to Programmable Logic Controller migrations. These were often occurring at frequent intervals with minimal consideration given to downtime.

The contracted integration company would work as hard as they could to get the site back up and producing in the shortest turnaround time possible, no matter the cost. It was not an unknown occurrence for an integration company to ride the wave of these constant requests to try and facilitate the O&G company getting as much product as they could out of the ground as fast as humanly possible.

To say things have changed is an understatement. Oil dropped from $130+/barrel to less than $30 and, at the time of writing, has now leveled off in the $50 range.

Oil and Gas Companies Have Changed How They Spend Their Dollars

To say the least, O&G companies have changed the way they are spending money. These include:

• A more competitive bidding process
• The “time and materials” days no longer exist
• Change orders are looked over with a fine-toothed comb

Another factor that has evolved in reaction to the economic climate is the downtime consideration for projects. As the profit on the product has been drastically reduced, the length of time it takes to recoup from a loss of production has been drastically increased. The downtime on a project is now seen as a major “make or break” concern.

Autopro Can Facilitate Reduced Downtime of a PLC Migration

Autopro was approached by a client and asked how we could reduce the downtime on a proposed Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) migration, and with the support of the client we went to site to evaluate the situation.

It didn’t take long for our team to assess and develop a solution, and it was decided that swapping the PLCs out while processes were running would be the least disruptive to the facility.

Based on our extensive experience completing on-line swingovers, Autopro has developed a process with detailed procedures and QA documentation for the successful physical removal of the PLC and installation of a new PLC in its place while the facility continues producing. All active control and shutdown procedures stay in place, and most importantly, keep all personnel safe during the migration.

The client had confidence in our skills and trusted our team, so a proof of concept migration was approved on-site that would see minimal downtime without a drastic reduction in production.

In the time since the pilot project, two more successful migrations have been executed. Our client was extremely happy as all migrations were completed with zero downtime and the facility was able to continue to generate revenue while the aged control system was fully replaced.

Autopro Can Help

As a vendor-independent service provider, Autopro is able to offer cost-effective turnkey solutions to support the full scope of our clients’ requirements. By removing the need for multiple service suppliers, we minimize risk of costly scope changes and schedule delays. With desirable locations, Autopro’s offices are well-situated to our clients’ facilities. We provide local staff and flexible, cost-effective solutions.

For more information on this and our other services,
please contact us:
+1 (888) 539-2450