Everyone knows that we use a lot of abbreviations and acronyms to describe objects, applications, and tasks. This is especially true in engineering and manufacturing automation. In some cases the acronym is used to show how much we know about the subject at hand. In other cases I think it is because the words that the acronym stands for seem very long and when used often take a longer time to spit out. I think this is the case for “PLC” which stands for “programmable logic controller”. This name describes a computer processing unit that can be programmed in various ways to control the manufacturing devices that are attached to it. It is a lot easier to say PLC than all that stuff for which it stands. Just know that the term PLC is used a great number of times when discussing the parts that make up a manufacturing automation system. It is the controller of all the tasks that are done by other devices that are attached to the PLC. It is the brain that makes the automation of manufacturing happen.
The automation PLC brings many very important attributes to the process of manufacturing. It is important for you as you define the automation that will be installed in your plant to do the manufacturing to select the automation PLC that has the attributes you need. You will also need to define the correct support system for the PLC to keep it running your manufacturing in an optimized way. In defining the attributes of the automation PLC you must make sure that it has the ability to grow as your manufacturing requirements grow. This kind of attribute includes the ability to receive an upgrade in processing power when it is needed. You can install an automation PLC now that has the ability to increase the amount of permanent and temporary memory without bringing the system offline for an extended period. Permanent memory is the disk space where programs are kept on a permanent basis. When these programs are to be executed to run the manufacturing process then they are loaded into temporary memory of the PLC for this purpose. Increasing the amount of temporary memory of a controller will increase the speed at which programs are run.
The performance of the controller and the speed at which programs run can also be improved by changing the processor to one that has a higher clock rate. You must have an automation PLC installed that will allow you to do this. The coding that is put into the programs for manufacturing that run on PLC’s contain a lot of standard lines of code that do standard tasks. These are tasks like starting a device, moving a device, and other such instructions.
When you are selecting the PLC foe your manufacturing you should it be one that has predefined libraries of standard code as part of its tool set. The best controllers have these libraries available which makes it much easier and faster for you to build new automation applications. When you get ready to make a change to your automation programs it is easy to drag and drop objects in a window interface to make corrections or additions to your programs. Your controller should be able to allow for the variation in processing speed. Faster is better only in some cases. An optimized rate of processing, which may be slower than the fastest rate possible, may be the best for your manufacturing due to external factors.
You will need a controller that allows you to manage the processing rate at a rate that is best for your manufacturing operation. A thought process that is important to have before the installation of a controller is the one that decides how deep you will need to set up backups for your controller. Having a well-thought out and established procedure for either controller or application failure is very important to continue operations when an outage occurs. You need to perform a cost-benefit analysis that evaluates the cost of downtime in manufacturing as it relates to the value of products that are not manufactured. Will it be necessary for you to only have production to be down for a very short period of time if it goes down or can production be down for days or a week without significantly hurting your bottom line or your presence in the market place. If you need production running with very little outage, you will need to invest in a backup controller that will switch production control over in microseconds to keep manufacturing running continuously.
If the production line can be down for a longer period of time due to the outage, you will not have to invest so heavily in an elaborate backup controller. Our consulting engineers can answer any questions that you might have about the automation of your business or they can supply you with a no-obligation quote for automating your business. If you have questions about automation or you would like to request a quote for automation, please click the “Request a Quote” button above and fill out the form to submit your question or request.