Preventative Maintenance

System Life Planning

An Ounce of Prevention Means a Pound of Profits

System Life Planning (SLP) is a thoroughly detailed and objective inventory, risk analysis, and planning process that enables cost-effective preventative maintenance. SLP provides plant managers and maintenance engineers with a thoroughly detailed and prioritized analysis of control system reliability that identifies and outlines corrections for the most likely points of failure that could lead to downtime.  This allows maintenance programs to shift from a response- or time-based methodology to a more proactive and economical needs-based strategy.

The SLP Process provides a detailed and prioritized system inventory including all control system components, software compatibility, communication networks, spare parts levels, and general facility safety and procedural practices. This precision targeting of risk areas conserves maintenance resources while providing a greater level of system reliability.


System Life Planning starts with an interview designed to get a sense of overall system issues, particular areas of concern and liability, and system history.  Areas of focus include recurrent system alarms or device crashes, system slowdowns, I/O board failure rates, existing maintenance and backup practices, patch updates processes, and any unexplained anomalies.


The next step in System Life Planning is a thorough accounting of all system components. Particular emphasis is paid to the physical state (dark marks indicating overheating, poor soldering points, warped fiberglass, extreme dirt, etc.) and operational conditions (power, grounding, temperature, humidity, vibration, electrical noise, intrinsic safety, etc.) of each element. This inventory process covers hardware, software, spare parts and network components.

  • Hardware includes Process Control Modules, I/O boards and termination panels, PLCs, Equipment Cases, Power and Data Cables, CDCM, DCM, OCM, VXT Terminals, RAID drives, Keyboards, Pointing Devices, CRT and LCD monitors, Multiplexers and associated boards, Power supplies, etc.
  • Software includes CPU Usage, System Alarms, Process Alarms, Patch Levels, D/3 log files, Service pack levels, D/3 Licenses, Hard Disk Utilization, etc.
  • Network covers all network components including routers, firewalls, switches, network interface cards, printer servers, etc. Complete Cabling Map including the types, length, and routing of cabling, electrical noise, power supplies, etc. System logs for long response time, collisions, broadcast storms, etc. System Monitoring Tools including Ethernet Network Analyzer, SNMP data on individual switch and router ports, and more.
  • Spare Parts for all of the above systems are catalogued. Their current physical condition, storage environment, dates of manufacture and last service (if applicable), and other information is recorded.


NovaTech engineers analyze the inventory to identify the greatest liabilities and opportunities for process improvement. Issues of hardware degradation, software improvements, and system obsolescence are addressed. Single points of failure (any single bottleneck or non-redundant component that could cause shutdown) are red-flagged for highest priority. Safety related issues are analyzed and documented.


The final deliverable of SLP is a report containing all of the inventories (hardware, software, network and spares), analysis of problems found and recommendations for improvements, and a migration path for future enhancements and system upgrades. This document serves as your guide to minimizing risk and optimizing the performance of process control systems at a single facility or across an entire company.

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