Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)
Every aspect of industry - from power generation to automobile painting to food packaging - uses programmable controllers to expand and enhance production. In this book, you will learn about all aspects of these powerful and versatile tools. This article will introduce you to the basics of programmable controllers - from their operation to their vast range of applications. In it, we will give you an inside look at the design philosophy behind their creation, along with a brief history of their evolution. We will also compare programmable controllers to other types of controls to highlight the benefits and drawbacks of each, as well as pinpoint situations where PLCs work best. When you finish this chapter, you will understand the fundamentals of programmable controllers and be ready to explore the number systems associated with them.
Programmable logic controllers, also called programmable controllers or PLCs, are solid-state members of the computer family, using integrated circuits instead of electromechanical devices to implement control functions. They are capable of storing instructions, such as sequencing, timing, counting, arithmetic, data manipulation, and communication, to control industrial machines and processes. Figure below illustrates a conceptual diagram of a PLC application.
PLC conceptual application diagram
Programmable controllers have many definitions. However, PLCs can be thought of in simple terms as industrial computers with specially designed architecture in both their central units (the PLC itself) and their interfacing circuitry to field devices (input/output connections to the real world).
Control engineering has evolved over time. In the past humans were the main method for controlling a system. More recently electricity has been used for control and early electrical control was based on relays. These relays allow power to be switched on and off without a mechanical switch. It is common to use relays to make simple logical control decisions. The development of low cost computer has brought the most recent revolution, the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). The advent of the PLC began in the 1970s, and has become the most common choice for manufacturing controls.
PLCs have been gaining popularity on the factory floor and will probably remain predominant for some time to come. Most of this is because of the advantages they offer.
• Cost effective for controlling complex systems.
• Flexible and can be reapplied to control other systems quickly and easily.
• Computational abilities allow more sophisticated control.
• Trouble shooting aids make programming easier and reduce downtime.
• Reliable components make these likely to operate for years before failure.