Have you ever made a program change that you wish you hadn’t? Lost the only copy of the device configuration? Not sure if the application running in the PLC is the right one? If you have been in this predicament, then a Change Management System (CMS) could have saved you a lot of time.
What is CMS?
Change Management System (CMS) such as MDT Autosave software is a background process that can rewind time, so that whatever has been, is never lost for ever. It protects production lost time by a centralised system that manages the changes of configurations, logic and corresponding documentation for devices such as PLCs, CNCs, HMIs, PC control systems, robots, drives and general automation programs.
As automation devices continue to add complexity and be integral to plant operation, there is an increased need to adjust variables and logic to continue smooth operation. These adjustments may be minor individually but can link to machine throughput and uptime. Resorting to an old unknown configuration version to restore production because of lost laptops or files, will most likely cause a disastrous outcome of decreased machine performance, decreased quality or downtime.
A time saver
While this situation is costly enough, consider the ramifications to plant operation if there are no older versions of the machine configuration available. To save wasting time locating the program on dead and buried laptops or walking around the countryside on an external contractor’s old laptop. A CMS holds every version of program used in each programmable device. Better yet, it holds the last known working configuration, saving thousands from completely rewriting, testing and commissioning a single program, which is often more significant than the cost to implement a plant-wide CMS.
A typical small plant has a few hundred programs, while large mining plants have several thousand. Insurance underwriters are becoming aware of Change Management System when assessing the risk profile of facilities, due to the fact over the life of a facility the investment in program logic alone represents a significant expenditure that should be preserved and optimised.
A CMS periodically checks for Change Detection, automatically interrogating hardware device configurations and comparing this running program versus the reference copy in the CMS. The CMS provides a detailed report including PLC logic illustrations of the changes for each ladder rung or structured text.
Moreover, a CMS bridges the gap where so many programming editors and software packages don’t have the capabilities. The CMS yields tremendous benefit by providing a consistent, intuitive tool to compare changes between any two file versions, either between a master copy, prior version or the current version in the processor, including drawings and text documentation, with the ability to trigger an immediate notification to the responsible individuals.
A CMS additionally adds security authentication to access the automation layer where most programmable configuration software does not. Facilities with controllers that can directly affect the occupational health and safety of employees can be locked to certain users or assigned to groups with permission profiles while plant expansion works can be open to external contractors. This protects existing investments that are in operation from accidental interactions or incompetence.
CMS disaster recovery detects faults before the operator becomes aware. When replacing network-connected devices, CMS takes over to ensure it operates precisely as before the disaster. While non-networked device management is also supported using a checkout and check-in procedure.
Safeguarding against unforeseen events saves the organisation thousands in time and revenue as its expensive and unnecessary to redo PLC logic. A lapse of judgment or an intentional act leading to unnecessary downtime requires adequate planning, strategy and a robust CMS that works automatically in the background. It ensures recent and reliable backup of the automation control program logic and corresponding documentation is at hand at any time. Whether it be human error, equipment failure, sabotage, power quality of fire, MDT Autosave offers a protective mechanism from any disruptive event makes a wise investment.