Mitigating Risk

Mark Ritson, Managing Director of Inspec Solutions, part of the iDESo Group, explains the impact obsolescence has on a broad range of critical business functions and how addressing it can also unlock huge potential for additional savings and efficiencies.

Many operators are running their critical operations on outdated control and safety systems, where even a single component failure could lead to serious consequences, not just operationally – think operational equipment effectiveness (OEE) – but also in terms of safety, sustainability, legislation, and all-important good will.

Control systems and electrical panels/cabinets sit at the heart of modern industrial solutions, so obsolete technology not only introduces multiple issues, but it also prevents manufacturers and operators leveraging the myriad capabilities and opportunities offered by contemporary digitalised and interconnected solutions.

The diverse challenges and opportunities are broken down as follows:

Risk and resilience

Sitting at the top of the pile is risk and resilience – and these terms are pertinent to every single facet of your operations – upstream, downstream, shopfloor and top floor. More up-to-date systems will almost always lower your risk and boost your resilience.


Failure of a key system component on a legacy system can present major operational issues. As well as the immediate short-term downtime from an unserviceable machine or panel, there may not be an immediately available or straightforward replacement solution, as the original suppliers may no longer hold legacy spares in stock. This unexpected need for research and the resulting hunt for alternatives turns downtime into a far more costly medium- and long-term issue, with all the obvious knock-on effects.


Older equipment and components may not offer the same levels of safety as their modern counterparts, or, if they did when originally installed, their safety capabilities may have diminished through years of operation.

Latest legislation e.g. machinery safety directive

Safety is heavily legislated, and the new machinery safety directive is tougher than ever before. Not only do modern up-to-date components comply more readily with contemporary standards, but they are also more adaptable as the standard evolve.


Cybersecurity experts are unanimous in their opinion in that it’s not a case of IF you get targeted, it’s WHEN. Older interconnected solutions may be running on outdated operating systems, which may not have seen a security patch in years. It is these legacy systems that are a favourite target, giving cybercriminals an easy and unsecured vector into your IT and operational (OT) networks. One only has to read the high-profile headlines regarding ransomware to immediately appreciate the long-term impact of cyber intrusions.

Digital capabilities

Modern digitalised solutions are revolutionising industry. The sheer volume of data being generated by even the most commodity component is allowing operators to gain new levels of insight into their processes and procedures. Real-time operational intelligence, in the right format and in the right hands is arguably the single most valuable asset a company can have.

Operational capabilities

It goes without saying that newer equipment works harder, faster and better than the kit it replaces. The pace of change in industry is staggering, as suppliers strive to create the next all-important USP, where even fractions of a second or three extra parts per minute can make a huge difference to the bottom line. If you’re still running legacy hardware, you could be missing out on significant performance gains.


Harder, faster and better equates to better efficiency and improved OEE. Costs per part falls as throughput increases and right-first-time quality levels climb. There is no downside as the initial investment into newer equipment is soon eclipsed by the value and profitability delivered by the replacements. With newer hardware OpEX becomes a more important and meaningful metric than CapEx.


No holistic approach to improvement ignores sustainability. Whether it is forced upon you, or you adopt it willingly, sustainability targets will always be easier to reach with up-to-date technology. They will use less energy, waste less energy, last longer, pollute less, measure more accurately and generally do a far better job than the legacy hardware they replace.

What are your next steps?

With forward planning and consideration given to the risks of running your operations on obsolete systems, problems can be easily mitigated and even caught before they occur.

Inspec Solutions has almost 25 years’ experience of modification work, deploying contemporary replacement technology and interfacing with obsolete technology systems across almost all sectors of UK industry.

We can come to your site and our experienced control and safety systems engineers will undertake a detailed survey and audit of your current systems. We will then provide a professional, balanced and completely unambiguous report that will highlight your current status and risk level, along with any recommendations to improve resilience and performance. We will also comment on any cyber security issues, which we feel need to be investigated more fully.

Contact Inspec Solutions if you feel you would benefit from this service or even if you just wish to talk with us. We will discount the cost of the investigation and report from any subsequent follow-on work, if applicable.

Bathtub Curve

A great illustration of the prudence of taking a proactive approach to obsolescence is the “Bathtub Curve”

A bathtub curve represents the failure rates of components or products over time. It identifies three distinct periods assets experiences within their lifetime: Infant mortality period, normal life period and finally end of life / wear out.

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The Inspec Solutions Team has experience across all our sectors and many electrical installations. Get in touch with one of the team to see how Inspec Solutions can assist you with your project requirements.