You are not registered yet. Please click here to register!


 
 
plc storereviewsdownloads
This board is for PLC Related Q&A ONLY. Please DON'T use it for advertising, etc.
 
Try our online PLC Simulator- FREE.  Click here now to try it.

New Here? Please read this important info!!!


Go Back   PLCS.net - Interactive Q & A > PLCS.net - Interactive Q & A > LIVE PLC Questions And Answers

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old April 11th, 2003, 08:05 AM   #1
jdbrandt
Lifetime Supporting Member
United States

jdbrandt is offline
 
jdbrandt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,178
PLC programming software workarounds

PLC programming software 'wears out' before PLC hardware. Operating systems are upgraded or abandon by their originators. PLC software generating sources (the PLC hardware companies, or their sup-contractors) move on to the 'next greatest thing'. In the lurch are users (and depender-ons) of the 'old stuff'.

SO, what are people doing to protect themselves from the software life cycle beast? What happens when your 500MB hard drive in your 386 laptop crashes, and it has the activation file for software that hasn't been produced for 10 years, on an operating system that hasn't been produced for 5?

Since there is an off-topic thread running, I thought this would be a good new topic, far away from the 'my assignment is due tomorrow and I don't know how to use a TOF' type messages.
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 08:34 AM   #2
PLucas
Member
England

PLucas is offline
 
PLucas's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Gillingham Kent
Posts: 1,743
Re: PLC programming software workarounds

Quote:
Originally posted by jdbrandt
SO, what are people doing to protect themselves from the software life cycle beast?
JD what can we do?

In another thread I mention that we were running GE series 6 PLC's, for these PLC's we have plenty of spare parts so that is not a problem in itself, the problem we do face is being able to get hold of a PC which is 'slow' enough to not crash the interface card thus preventing us from viewing the logic.

At the moment we have 18 cranes running series 6 PLC's and we have 18 PC's capable of running windows 98 and logicmaster 6. To us loseing a hard drive is not a problem, if we can only get a 20 gig hard drive then there will be 20 partitions on that drive, with only 1 formatted with FAT16. The problem we face is if we loose a motherboard or a CPU, as we cannot find replacements anywhere. The only altenative we would have would be to run the PC in DOS and turn off the CPU caches. This will of course prevent us from using our remote control programs. Then if we do have to buy a new motherboard and CPU we do have to make sure that it is not an Intel one, as I know from bitter experience that the Series 6 interface cards do not like Intel processors (P75 and newer).

Upgrade! upgrade! I hear people cry, get rid of those old PLC's and put a brand spanking new S7 (or another brand) in it's place!

That all comes down to one thing - Money!!! It seems that it would be cheaper for us to buy 18 new cranes than totally upgrade them!

So back to your original question ' what are people doing to protect themselves from the software circle of life beast?'

In Thamesport's case, not a lot really.

Paul
__________________
There are 10 types of people in this world..
Those who understand binary and those who don't!
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 08:37 AM   #3
Steve Bailey
Lifetime Supporting Member + Moderator
United States

Steve Bailey is offline
 
Steve Bailey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: The boondocks of Western Massachusetts USA
Posts: 7,939
As I mentioned in the other post, I keep a 386 computer running DOS and equipped with a parallel interface card so that I can support my Series Six customers. I also have master disks of Logicmaster Six (and LM5 and LM1) software and DOS system disks so that I could set up another computer if this one should crash.

I have a few customers that continue to rely on their machines controlled by Series Six PLCs.

[Blatant self-promotion alert]

and I'm always looking for more

[/Blatant self-promotion alert]


I try to keep them abreast of GE's policies regarding parts availability and aware of third-party outfits that will repair them or that may have spares on hand.

I expect that there are other people like me supporting PLC2 and PLC3 installations, Modicon 484 and 584, or any other of those old workhorses that are still chugging along. It's not enough to keep me busy full-time, but it's a nice little niche without a lot of competition.
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 08:41 AM   #4
Vetteboy
Member
Canada

Vetteboy is offline
 
Vetteboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 380
I think when a software company sells software that requires activation or any other copyright system, they have obligated themselves to providing support for that system for life, or risk losing customers to disillusionment. You can rip me off once, so you better make it good. As far as operating systems go, that is totally the choice of the user to upgrade to what is sometimes a better OS. Once you do that you open up the "compatibility" can of worms with the remaining software you own. My experience has been that XP is very stable compared to 95, 98, and ME. If I was setting up for the long run I would buy XP and compatible PLC software, and hang on, provided you do use Windows.
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 10:29 AM   #5
kamenges
Member
United States

kamenges is offline
 
kamenges's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Brillion, WI
Posts: 4,240
Regardless of whay Bill and his $40 billion say, XP will be a thing of the past in 5 years, just like DOS and WIN311 and WIN95 before it. So all the stuff we buy today so we can have a solid, stable base to go from will be gone right along with XP. The unfortunate truth is there is no protection against technology mutation other than a VERY friendly supplier.
I thnk Steve mentioned the only sure-fire method of protection; keep an old PC around with all the old software loaded on it just in case. I have not been able to find anything else that works. I just had to do this with an early '90s version of a PanelView. We needed to upload the config out of the PanelView and the latest version of PanelBuilder didn't support that PanelView. We didn't have a copy of the old PanelBuilder stuff around but we did have an old laptop with WIN311 on it. to their ccredit our local AB rep gave us a free copy of the old PanelBulder, which we loaded up and uploaded the config. But as you can see, what it comes down to is having all the old stuff on hand to pull this off.

Keith
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 11:27 AM   #6
Steve Etter
Lifetime Supporting Member + Moderator
United States

Steve Etter is offline
 
Steve Etter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Morristown, TN
Posts: 946
Just like many of you, I too have been playing this little game for a good many years now and, quite frankly, I disagree that the PLC/PC/Hardware/Software/Etc manufacturer is the problem. The problem, if it exists in a given organization, is really in that organization's facilities and corporate management. Or worse yet, with us, guys like us who know what is coming.

We all know that machines "wear-out" or "out live their useful lives". Commonly we think of this in terms of bearings, rollers, gears, you-name-it. These, of course, are typically things we can look at and go "OOOh…that's about worn out. Gotta replace it."

So why not the same for our software? I mean come on. Name me ANY software (other than that one in your PLC) that was written 20 years ago that is still considered "current".

There aren't any.

Rather than sit back and wait for the supply chain to whack us across the skulls, shouldn't we be focusing our attention on identifying these "antiquated" PLC's and control systems and upgrading them? Any company worth its salt (I just love that phrase) allocates money for yearly capital improvements. So justify enough for a new PLC or whatever it is that is you need to replace.

The burden has to be on people like you and I in the plant environment who are knowledgeable in this stuff. We have got to be able to make our cases to the boss and his/her boss. If we can't do this effectively then THERE is the real problem. Lets do our homework. Learn to work the system and do it.

This is how today's corporatitions really work. Sit back and bark up a tree about how bad it is if you want, but that aint gonna change nothin'.

Steve
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 12:51 PM   #7
Peter Nachtwey
Member
United States

Peter Nachtwey is offline
 
Peter Nachtwey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: The land of the woke and the home of the broke
Posts: 7,966
?

Quote:
Originally posted by Vetteboy
I think when a software company sells software that requires activation or any other copyright system, they have obligated themselves to providing support for that system for life, or risk losing customers to disillusionment.
I agree, however if you update the operating, change the hardware etc it is no longer that system that was originally supported. Once the operating system or hardware is updated to something released after the original software was installed then all bets are off. To expect otherwise is to ask engineers/designers to predict the future.

Microsoft and its users are the biggest culprit. The users want the latest and greatest and Microsoft keeps rolling out new and incompatible versions of their operating system.

We need an industrial strength operating system that won't change so all the software we buy will always work even 20 years from now. ( dream on )

Steve has the right idea. Keep the old computers that have old software running on them. We do the same. We have computers that have only one function and that is to run one software package.

I have an SA85 card. ( Modbus plus ). It runs well on DOS and WIN98. Does anyone really think I have the right to demand free upgrades to WIN/NT, WIN2K and WINXP drivers when the choice to use these operating system is mine? The SA85 card still works well under DOS.
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 12:55 PM   #8
Stephen Luft
Lifetime Supporting Member
United States

Stephen Luft is offline
 
Stephen Luft's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: South Portland, ME
Posts: 671
The majority of the PLC manufacturers are public companies and are not controlled by management, but by the shareholders and wall street. If management wants to keep their jobs, they have to exceed expectations. This means that they have to constantly find new ways of squeezing a nickel to make a quarter. The holy grail is the company's stock price.

You have heard the arguments - "the software division has to generate its own revenue stream because they are considered a cost center". When in actual fact you cannot have a PLC without some means to program it.

If these companies truly put their customers first, then how come there are so many posts with questions about products that should be covered either by the manufacturer or the distribtor. Not to slam anyone, but the majority of the "how to" questions are from Allen Bradley's customers or people that have inherited equipement with AB in it. Why aren't these people working with their distributors or the manufacturer? Because support costs. Where does it all originate from? Management that is trying to keep their job and please shareholders. Who is paying for all of this...the customer...before, during and after the sale. They are always paying so that the company can exceed the expectations of an analyst on Wall Street, who has no idea about what they do, or the affects that it has on the people who use their products.

If companies put their customer first, and provided them with what they had originally paid for...they would be creating an anormous amount of Good Will. This alone would generate revenue without having to squeeze your customers out of every dime just for the priviledge of using your product.

With regards to older software...it isn't costing them anything to provide a copy. They are not expending any money on upgrades or new development. If they wanted to charge a nominal fee...I don't think that would be a big issue. But, to force people into the latest or greatest stuff, when they only need the old version to support existing product is rediculous.

Then you have the support issue..."Your contract has to be paid before we can talk with you"...please.

By forcing your customers into these situations only puts a bad taste in their mouths. Rather than them wanting to use you, you have put the customer into the situation of "I will only use them if I absolutely have to use them". This is where the larger companies are missing out on. If they would treat their customers better, then they wouldn't have to squeeze every last dime out of them.

On a personal note, I am glad we are not a public company and controlled by others who haven't a clue about our company or our industry.

Just my opinion. Take it for what you like.

God Bless,

Stephen Luft
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 01:26 PM   #9
Vetteboy
Member
Canada

Vetteboy is offline
 
Vetteboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 380
Thumbs up

I Agree Stephen, with all of it. Very well said.

Vetteboy
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 01:30 PM   #10
seppoalanen
Member
Finland

seppoalanen is offline
 
seppoalanen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Finland
Posts: 1,132
Talking

My opinion: http://puffinplc.control.com/
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 01:41 PM   #11
TimothyMoulder
Member
United States

TimothyMoulder is offline
 
TimothyMoulder's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Just a bit northeast of nowhere
Posts: 1,117
On the subject of compatability

Check out VMware (do an google search). I've had some success with it.

TM
__________________
"Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated." -- Sun Tzu
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 03:58 PM   #12
rsdoran
Lifetime Supporting Member
United States

rsdoran is offline
 
rsdoran's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Birmingham, AL
Posts: 7,372
All this is kind of strange. Many, if not all of you are in the manufacturing business in some form or another. The concept behind any company is to make money. People work to make money. If you are lucky you may be able to save/invest some of that money. WHY? To make more money.

Why do companies change things so often? MS was mentioned, since its one of the largest companies in the world (I read the Fortune 500 mag while at the doctors office...can we complain about having to sit forever waiting at a doctors?) MS is a company that wants to make money, how do they do that? There business (for that matter all businesses) isnt based on other companies but something called "consumers". Any way you look at it a company that doesnt sell directly to consumers sells products, machinery etc to other companies that do make products for consumers. Consumers are never satisfied, with old or new.This thread proves that. History shows us that things never stay the same. Consumer demands make things obsolete.

As far as things like MS not supporting DOS anymore, why should they? There is no profit, WHY? Because it can be obtained free.
http://www.freedos.org/

As for AB not supporting older products, that would be a business choice I guess but think about it a little. They build a device and it was installed on a machine and work fine for what? may 20 years..lets go less..10 years. The first year they offered support if needed but in many cases it wasnt so the support contract was never renewed. OK now 10 years later there is a problem with the machine, no software is available, no support contract but its expected that the company should provide at no cost. I do not get this.

I will use a simple example. How many of you have a Washing Machine in your home? Many people do. Many of these machines are kept and run for 10 to 20 years. I bought one back in the late 70's that is still being used by a family member.(one of those it got passed around thru different family members to family of theirs etc). My point being, Maytag, Kenmore, Whirlpool, GE etc doesnt have to provide things for their washing machines after 10 or 20 years why should anyone else be expected too?

As for support contracts (this part applies to what is done is US, not sure if happens in other countries). When was the last time you bought an appliance or electronic device from KMart, Walmart, Sears, Best Buy or any place that they didnt immediately ask you if you wanted to PURCHASE the extended warranty?

Overall when it comes to PLC's and the software I would agree it would be easier for us if some things were done differently. The fact is that in most cases its not our money thats involved its a companies investment and their decision whether its needed or not.

I just dont see where its an issue for engineers/techs, the changing is what creates our jobs. If it never changed then everyone would eventually be able to do it and many of us wouldnt have the jobs we have today.

End of ramble.
If you have a need for older used PLC components then you may want to checkout http://www.plccenter.com
They carry or repair many brands

IF you have a need for older motherboards or PC components then you may want to look at http://www.pricewatch.com

When I sold PC's I used pricewatch to find the best deals on components. I have used ebay in the past to buy and sell items, plccenter/speck controls has bought from me and sold to me. They normally sell at 50% of retail so its possible to find good used parts at a decent price. I do not work for either company.
__________________
http://www.patchn.com Industrial Electrical & Maintenance @ www.patchn.com "Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand."
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 06:24 PM   #13
jdbrandt
Lifetime Supporting Member
United States

jdbrandt is offline
 
jdbrandt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,178
rsd:
You make many good points, as usual.

The difference between PLCs and washing machines is, first of
all, the cost of replacment. Secondly, if your washing machine
breaks, you go down the street to a coin-operated laundry, and
get on with your life. If your PLC breaks, your production
equipment is down, and you don't make money/products.

I heard a few years ago that GE would have been happy to make
Series Six PLCs into the next millenium, except that they couldn't
get the 'silicon' products to load their circuit boards. Well,
right or wrong, they (GE, et al) do what they do for the same
reason my customers do.... because they think they can without
reproach or consequence. And, guess what, they can.

For the record, I don't like paying for technical support (twice)
[insert new thread here], and I also don't expect every manufacturer
to support everything they make for as long as someone uses it.
The purpose of this thread was to see the crafty ways that
people use to get around stuff like has been discussed.

FYI: I believe Allen Bradley has a contest going right now to find the
oldest piece of continuously operating Allen Bradley gear out there.

My guess is that its a resistor speed control on a crane somewhere
in Africa or Asia, 80 or more years old.
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 07:02 PM   #14
rsdoran
Lifetime Supporting Member
United States

rsdoran is offline
 
rsdoran's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Birmingham, AL
Posts: 7,372
Quote:
The difference between PLCs and washing machines is, first of all, the cost of replacment. Secondly, if your washing machine
breaks, you go down the street to a coin-operated laundry, and
get on with your life. If your PLC breaks, your production
equipment is down, and you don't make money/products.
I disagree, what happens when the washing machine at the coin-op breaks down? Do they send customers to another coin-op? The idea wasnt directly related but a fair example when it comes to what is to be expected. Ever really priced washing machines? Especially the commercial models?

My points were to apply to the rants/rambles etc against what companies do, I dont see a difference between the washing machine maker and a plc maker.

My other point is that at some point the machine will have to be modified/upgraded/retrofitted or replaced. What is new about this?

I attempted also in addressing the needs to maintain older plc's or computers by adding the links.

People grow older and retire and are then replaced, machines grow old but have the option of being upgraded/retrofitted or replaced. Things are evolving fast these days so in many cases now its cheaper to buy new than to repair. The newer the device usually the more productive it may be.
__________________
http://www.patchn.com Industrial Electrical & Maintenance @ www.patchn.com "Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand."
  Reply With Quote
Old April 11th, 2003, 07:55 PM   #15
Peter Nachtwey
Member
United States

Peter Nachtwey is offline
 
Peter Nachtwey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: The land of the woke and the home of the broke
Posts: 7,966
Washing machines and computers break. Software doesn't

I don't think the washing machine analogy is valid. Software does not wear out. It just becomes old. It is the PCs that wear out.
If the PCs lasted as long as the software then we wouldn't be having this discussion.
  Reply With Quote
Reply
Jump to Live PLC Question and Answer Forum

Bookmarks


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Topics
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
IEC standard for PLC Programming vadrevukamarajsarma LIVE PLC Questions And Answers 5 September 7th, 2017 03:09 AM
MPI comunication Manuel Raposo LIVE PLC Questions And Answers 22 July 16th, 2007 07:24 AM
Programming Software for a Modicon PLC pablo2000 LIVE PLC Questions And Answers 5 November 22nd, 2004 01:27 PM
PLC Leads & Software lightninguk LIVE PLC Questions And Answers 1 August 31st, 2002 11:23 AM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 07:15 AM.


.