Putting Smart Tech on Old Machines: Page 2 of 2

Manufacturers are deploying advanced-technology solutions on older factory equipment – but at what cost?

Mustard. “Coupling together legacy systems with new IoT solutions exposes many vulnerabilities that can lead to cyber incidents.”

Moving to New Equipment May Be Cheaper

Adding new tech to existing equipment successfully required a full reconsideration of what needs to be accomplished and what’s the best strategy for doing it. ““The temptation is to go straight to the latest technical solution and work out how it can meet a requirement,” said Mustard. “In many cases, if the requirement is properly understood it may be possible to achieve it with fewer, less disruptive changes, to the existing environment.”



One of the advantages of IoT is that it’s relatively inexpensive compared with most machines and automation systems. Yet that low cost may be a siren song. “It’s easy to conclude that the latest IoT device is cheaper than upgrading legacy hardware if one looks only at unit costs. However, if one considers the changes required to the infrastructure, the additional training required for maintenance, and so on, then it may not be cheaper long-term,” said Mustard. “The best approach is to correctly define the business requirement, produce alternative solutions and properly cost the entire implementation and ongoing maintenance, then compare the two.”


Atlantic Design & Manufacturing, New York, 3D Printing, Additive Manufacturing, IoT, IIoT, cyber security, smart manufacturing, smart factory EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO ADD NEW TECHNOLOGY TO EXISTING PLANT EQUIPMENT. When it comes to plant  efficiency and effective connectivity, there are hurdles when  plants choose to continue using their legacy equipment. Steve Mustard will cover this in detail in the session, Teaching Old Equipment New Tricks: Tips to Overcome Retrofitting Challenges at the Atlantic Design and Manufacturing show , which runs June 13-15 in NY. Register today !


Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News . Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

Image courtesy of the Association Advancing Automation.


The first big question must always be about exactly what actual benefit will be delivered by replacing a functional control system with a much more modern one. It is also a completely FAIR question, and if no clear answer can be provided, ask again. Of course ANY installation must be done correctly and with complete understanding of what it must deliver, and an understanding of how to achieve that target. Anything less will certainly be a failure.

One of the biggest benefits for machines my companies makes is getting rid of the human factor where folks forget how to run the equipment or new folks come in that aren't taught properly or some folks can't quit fiddling with stuff or some equipment needs seasonal/climate adjustments that humans have trouble doing.

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