Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have standardized and almost perfected a charade that involves the use of programmable automation controller, distributed input/output, a touchscreen operator interface and features such as data logging and charting to achieve automation. Today, companies are looking out for architectures that would help them instill “smartness” in their plants and be a part of the major industrial revolutions that are just around the corner.
Universal Logic, Inc., an AI software company and robotics integrator that offers supply chain solutions, needed a design and complete build of control panels to house 130+ VFDs and a PLC. With a low bandwidth of in-house engineering resources, Universal Logic Inc. needed a turnkey solution they could trust.
The PLC Evolution
Dick Morley introduced the industrial world to the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), a tool that would revolutionize the automation landscape for decades to come. The PLC was seen as a savior in the industrial world, which relied heavily on switch gears and relay boxes for routine activities. The PLC has room for evolution unlink any other automotive device which has made it so susceptible to changing technological standards.
The protection of individual I/O points is as important as the protection of any other control device. The use of fuses is one of the most fundamental decisions that needs to be taken by a protection engineer to ensure maximum safety as well as uptime for industrial assets.
Circuit breakers and fuses are two of the most widely-accepted types of protection. While circuit breakers have the benefit of reusability, the quicker operation of fuses make them an appropriate choice for I/O protection. In addition, fuses are better at blocking let-through energy, providing better protection for downstream devices. Therefore, wherever quickness is a priority, fuses should be preferred over other modes of protection.
Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) have been around for over 50 years and have established themselves as the preferred hardware for industrial automation. Several competitors have come along the way in the form of PCs, microcontrollers, etc. but none have been able to dent the reputation of the PLC.
The 1970s saw the introduction of PLCs or Programmable Logic Controllers, which would forever change the way automation is achieved in industrial environments. Known for its rugged design and scalable implementation, the PLC was adapted by all major manufacturers and to this day is the norm for industrial automation. Allen-Bradley, Omron, Siemens, AEG, etc. became the leaders in PLC manufacturing, and soon the controllers had the processing capability of a computer while withstanding harsh industrial conditions.
Improving Efficiency & Speed in the Automation Industry
Parallel programming has always created issues for the the programming industry. Coming towards the pragmatic workings of the automation industry, the processes are often trapped within a loop that makes use of the same block of code iterative. Software configureable I/O is an up and coming concept regarding automation that can greatly improve the efficiency and speed of a process.
Automation not only cuts costs and saves time but instills reliability and precision within the system that has immediate and long-term benefits. Today home automation or hobby projects often conjure images of teenagers working on Arduino, Raspberry Pi and PIC, but the true struggle to make industries and large-scale systems independent began more than five decades ago.
Ladder Logic 301: One Shots
Through this series on ladder logic, you have been given an introduction to the basics of ladder logic 101 and you have seen some of the upper level conceptual ideas behind the use of ladder logic in PLC systems. To end the series for now, it is necessary to add one more concept to the list, and that is the use of one shots to control signal durations.
Control system integration is key to improving industries and automation. Automation has been increasing the use of more machines to complete tasks alongside of workers, which improves efficiency and quality of production. However, these machines are dangerous and it is vital to have a control system in place to turn off and control the machines. In the past, these control panels were separate for each machine, but newer technology is moving towards integrated larger control systems so more machines can be shut down or controlled from a central location.