Surviving the Great Resignation
A rapidly decreasing number of technical personnel are available who can install and maintain the higher-end equipment used in manufacturing today. “The great resignation and/or retirement” movement, along with changes associated with the recent pandemic landscape, has sent many highly qualified workers to the exits in search of new and often altogether different opportunities. The stage has been set for decades with the wave of baby boomer retirements churning towards manufacturers. Parallel to this has been the increased reliance on high-tech manufacturing machines and processes. These two situations pair well with the idea of future-proofing low-to-mid complexity manufacturing but, in an interesting juxtaposition, amplify the core problem. (more…)
Case Study: Methodical Approach to a Systems Upgrade
ECS Solutions, Inc. (ECS) recently helped a client with an upgrade by leveraging ECS’ methodical approach to system solutions. Their client has three very similar processing areas known as casting pits. Each was controlled by an independent GE 9030 PLC system, each with a main, and each controlled by a local BLUE Open Studio HMI from ProFace America.
The 9030 PLCs that were installed were robust and accurate for these areas when originally installed. Over a long period of time, the systems were maintained and augmented by several personnel from both inside and outside the organization. The result, as is often the case in legacy automation systems, is system drawings that are littered with hand comments and sketches on paper drawings. These systems also feature code that works…. until it doesn’t due to getting lost in a discarded section of logic that was thought to be disabled but was never removed. These situations are often referred to as “ghosts” or “gremlins” in the code and they can be difficult to troubleshoot. Frequently, the solution is to reboot entire systems to exit from the offending area.