From Hardwired to State-of-the-Art Detention Control System
In 2017, Montgomery Technology Systems, LLC (MTS) worked with Carroll County to replace a detention control system that was over 20 years old with the latest in touchscreen technology by providing a MTI ProVision detention control system.
The existing control system was a “hardwired” system, meaning that the buttons on a physical graphics panel tied directly to a relay that controlled the doors in the facility. The panel had aged to the point where the facility could not reliably control doors. To make matters worse, they could no longer find parts to make repairs on the system.
MTS replaced the control panel, video surveillance system, and intercom system with the latest in IP-based technologies for each system. The replacement of all of these systems took five weeks. The biggest challenge in the project was replacing wiring. The old intercom system used a 2-wire cable that was proprietary to that system. MTS pulled new 4-wire cable which will allow the facility more flexibility in the future, should they choose to retrofit the intercoms.
This project is a shining example of two challenges for retrofitting control systems. First, there is a common assumption that “hardwired” systems, which involve physical buttons and relays, are cheaper to maintain and last longer. While this particular system was 20 years old, it was well past its end of life. And, as stated earlier, parts were no longer available for the system. The second challenge is really more of an opportunity. Even though this project required new wiring and a wide variety of new electronics, the timeline for delivery was still relatively short. It is often assumed that a retrofit of an existing system is too cost and time restrictive to be justified. Facility administrators may choose to delay needed improvements because they worry about the cost and time risks. At the end of the day, the cost and time involved in the retrofit is much less than that of limping along.