Dematic Retrotech provides a wide range of modernization options. Automation systems are complex, so it's important to consider what's involved with the sub-systems and the reasons why modernization can be beneficial.
Install up-to-date, reliable, off-the-shelf PLC hardware in place of older PLCs, relay logic, or other proprietary control systems that are difficult and costly to maintain, support, and troubleshoot.
New PLCs offer enhanced capabilities with faster processors and increased memory that can be programmed with enhanced diagnostic and maintenance functionality.
Use modern, high performance, off-the-shelf drives and motors in place of obsolete, poorly performing, costly, or difficult to maintain drives and motors.
Modern drives are digital and provide a wealth of feedback and diagnostic information via network interfaces.
Install new Human-Machine Interface (HMI) hardware in place of old hardware or where no real HMI exists.
HMI provides maintenance, control, logging, and diagnostic functions to operators or maintenance personnel. They are available in many sizes and provide a graphically rich, user-friendly interface.
Implement new absolute positioning systems, such as laser distance measurement, continuous barcode, and absolute encoders in place of older systems, such as code readers/targets, incremental encoders, or older absolute positioning systems.
Absolute positioning eliminates homing and calibration allowing for unique positioning where every storage location can be fine-tuned in a position map. This can compensate for storage racks that have shifted, settled, or been damaged. These systems communicate on networks, allowing enhanced feedback and diagnostics.
Install optical or RF Ethernet communication links in place of old communication links, which are often serial communication over festoons, bar/brush systems, optical transceivers, power line modems, or proprietary RF.
Ethernet allows for enhanced off-board diagnostics. It also allows maintenance personnel to get online with PLCs, drives, and positioning systems during operation, enabling real-time troubleshooting. This also makes real-time remote support possible via VPN or dial-in connections.
When on-machine PLCs are upgraded and the communication is changed to Ethernet, an end-of-aisle (EOA) PLC may be required to translate between the new communication protocols and the old protocols.
EOA PLCs allow for enhanced off-board diagnostics, off-board HMI terminals, and remote support capabilities while maintaining the old communication protocol to a host system. As a result, no software changes are required in the upstream WMS, WCS, or host computer system.
Replace worn out mechanical components, such as wheels, rails, bearings, guidance systems, drive trains, hoisting systems, safety brakes, even major components like lifting carriages.
Replacing components brings older systems into compliance with new safety standards and corrects visible mechanical flaws and degradation.
- Norman Brodsky, Merck Research Laboratories