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.
In the last ladder logic article, Ladder Logic 201, we began to see some of the interaction between PLCs and ladder logic, and that will continue now with a quick introduction to ladder and PLC memory organization and its benefits.
Ladder Logic 201: PLC Scanning
In the beginning of this series of articles, you were introduced to the basics of the programming language ladder logic. With such fundamentals under the belt, it is time to move on to some higher level aspects of this tool, so you can see why it is so widely used in the manufacturing industry today.
Ladder Logic 102: The Pros and Cons
As we’ve seen in the previous article, Ladder Logic 101, choosing the right tool for your programming job is super important. We took a look at the conception and fundamentals of one of those tools, called ladder logic, and now we will finish the introduction to ladder with an overview of its pros and cons. Understanding what ladder does and doesn’t do best is key to getting the most use out of it, and should it be the programming method you choose to use for your project, you’ll want to know where it really shines.
Ladder Logic 101: The Basics
Anyone who has worked in automation software knows that using the right tool for the job is essential to a successful and worthwhile implementation. Recognizing this, software vendors often allow multiple programming methods to be used with their software. These fundamentally different models of computation let programmers select the most appropriate tool for their tasks, such as ladder logic.
Until the late 1960s, large relays were the best option for controlling automation machines. They were expensive, difficult to work with, and horrible for troubleshooting. Then came along a new technology that could fix all of that, programmable logic controllers (PLCs). This allowed manufacturers to easily program controllers that were much smaller and cheaper than the old, clunky relays. The rise of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) led to the creation of other controllers such as programmable automation controllers (PACs) and industrial PCs (IPCs).
Each of these different controllers are used today for certain tasks. There are many factors to deciding what controller to use on a project.