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Dealing with obsolescence
How is the best way to keep up with the ever changing system configuration of the installed base? Once a provider of predictive maintenance comes in, it is able to "take a picture" of the status of the system at that moment. However, there may be changes to the system because of repairs, upgrades, etc done by a third party and, in many cases, those changes are not reported back to the original OEM or the predictive maintenance system supplier.
This is a prevailing issue in today's industrial environment however, it is not that hard to cope up with.
- FIrst of all try to engage the OEM or the OEM approved predictive maintenance supplier (PMS) if possible. In this way the OEM will be kept up to date from the day to day changes and modification being done on the system. If the PMS is OEM approved third party, they must know the standard practice and norms regarding reporting serious issues back to the OEM. Similarly other good reputed PM suppliers will keep track of the repair & modifications being done on the system which may be available to you if required at a later stage.
- Secondly, always try to adopt the management of change (MOC) procedure before making any alteration to the system. This procedure helps you conduct necessary deliberations before actually performing the proposed modification and will ensure that you update the drawings and PLC/DCS program backups after the entire activity.
- Try to keep up with the OEM before any planned modification or alteration on the system. Generally OEMs do circulate from time to time, a letter to their customers regarding discontinuing their support services and spareparts for a specific system however, it is good to check with them before making any change.
- In case of PLCs/DCS and other controllers, always ensure to download the backup software and save it before starting the maintenance activity. If at a later stage you face any problem, you can always load back the software from your back up.