When is the right time to upgrade your control system? Part II

In last month’s blog we talked about how to identify the best time to invest in a new control system, how to find the best system for you and the components you’ll need to fulfil your requirements. In this month’s blog we’ll conclude by providing guidance about what you need to consider before upgrading; covering information on the features of new systems, costs and ease of use.

Future-proofing a new system

Before investing in a new system it’s important to pay close consideration to the expected longevity and average lifespan of the products on your shortlist. It’s worth bearing in mind that most products spend many years in development before coming to market, and so it’s in the interest of most manufacturers to manufacture products designed to stand the test of time.

However, technological developments do tend to move at a pace and when new innovations come onto the market, other products can end up being forced into early retirement before the manufacturer expects them to. As such, it’s worth researching how your chosen manufacturer has handled these transitions in the past if you want to save yourself the expense of having to replace an entire system before you’re ready to.

Look for the features you need

One user’s key feature might be irrelevant to another user and so it’s sensible to have a clear definition of requirements that are important to you before you start your research. Once you’ve compiled a list of your must-have features, don’t forget to also include features you think you might need in the future. This list will then prove invaluable when narrowing down your search.

You’ll find that many of the features provided by leading manufacturers tend to be very similar and this can make the decision-making process harder. For example, communications options or input/output cards are features you might be interested in, however there are likely to be features with other users might also want to consider. So, a collaborative approach to selecting the right system is likely to prevent dissatisfaction further down the line.

User-friendly or complex?

Some control systems are very user-friendly, with intuitive controls, designed to make life simple for the average user. On the other hand, some systems might require training or comprehensive instructions before you get started. As such, it’s important to understand the technical capabilities of everyone who will use the new system.

Make the most of personal experiences

Personal experience can provide an important insight when choosing a new system. However, this also has the potential to unfairly influence your decision, turning your attention away from other systems which might be more suitable in the long-term. If possible, a great way to evaluate systems you’re not familiar with is to arrange demonstrations by your manufacturer’s local representatives. Seeing is system ‘in action’ is a practical way to decide whether it’s right for you and your team. Furthermore, some reps are happy to provide demo software and hardware for you to ‘try before you buy’.

Price

Last and by no means least, cost is perhaps the most important consideration behind most purchasing decisions, and deciding which control system to buy is likely to be no exception. Your budget is likely to be the deciding factor and this will have implications on how feature-rich your new system can be. In addition, your budget may well affect how you’re going to replace your old system: in other words, are you planning on making one large payment, or to pay for it in stages? Perhaps the most sensible step you can take when choosing a new control system is to set a budget in advance and then stick to it.

Control panel solutions to suit your budget and requirements

As you’ve probably gathered, a wide range of issues need to be taken into consideration when choosing a new control system for your business or organisation. We hope the information we’ve provided this month and last month has helped to make things a little clearer. We’re happy to provide further advice and guidance if required, so if you’d like support with choosing the right control system, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our team.

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