PLC Automation – 10 facts you should know

As industry leaders in automation, we enjoy teaching our clients about the machines and components we create and maintain. Here’s what you need to know about the PLC – a key element in the automated manufacturing process:

  1. PLC stands for Programmable Logic Controller – a special computer device used for industrial control systems.
  2. It is essentially an industrial computer, built to withstand harsh conditions.
  3. Used to control devices, the PLC ‘softwires’ components together by monitoring a series of different inputs and manipulating the output for the desired control/effect.
  4. It contains a programmable (changeable) memory in which a sequence of instructions is stored. Those instructions enable the PLC to perform various useful control functions like relay logic, counting, timing, sequencing, and arithmetic computation.
  5. Its key advantage is that it is highly flexible in how it can be programmed while still being reliable – meaning no program crashes or mechanical failures (as is the case with some traditional control systems).
  6. PLCs come in many shapes and sizes.  They can be small enough to fit in your shirt pocket while more involved controls systems require large PLC racks.
  7. Modern day PLCs are programmed with specialised software. A common form of programming is Ladder Logic and involves the use of symbols rather than words.
  8. A single PLC can be programmed to replace thousands of relays and timers with one programme.
  9. It can be designed to run its one program at a very fast speed, responding very quickly to any of the events under its control. For example, controlling a machine’s production running at 30 000 units an hour!
  10. You will find PLCs across a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, travel, aerospace, printing, textiles, agriculture, and film. Where there’s automation, there’s bound to be a PLC (or quite a few) at work!