PLCs or Programmable Logic Controllers are evolving and the best option for a lot of industrial automation applications. Excellent programming ease and flexibility, more memory, scalability, high-speed Ethernet (runs on Gigabit per second), built-in wireless and smaller sizes are among the features of an evolving PLC or Programmable Logic Controller.
If you use this system or are thinking of using it, there is a big chance that you are thinking of it as a mature technology with little wiggle room for improvement as they have been around for nearly have a century. But like its close counterparts in the consumer electronic world, significant improvements are still happening with no end in sight, promising smaller, faster, as well as lower-cost solutions.
The system’s hardened embedded processor, running real-time proprietary operating systems, has proven to be mainstays in the industrial automation business. PLCs has been dominating this industry for the past years, and they are unchallenged in its supremacy. The operating systems that are Microsoft-based have designed inroads, but fallen behind Programmable Logic Controllers.
Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programmable_logic_controller to find out more about PLCs.
It is a trend a lot of experts expected to continue as systems with its purpose – design hardware and software, as well as one-supplier support model that will remain a solid choice for a lot of industrial control apps. From the start, when Logic Controller was usually replacing scores if not tons of timers and relays, there has been a push to minimize automation system size and to simplify maintenance and support.
Over the years, relay panels have been replaced with a rack-based and smaller Programmable Logic Controllers, or smaller but Logic Controllers with remote Inputs and Outputs. When it comes to software, logic programming usually mimicked automated systems that are based on timers and relays. Not only that, but it also continues to be widely used Programmable Logic Controller programming language.
But there are other options on the market today, like the International Electrotechnical Commission 61131-3 suite of the PLC programming option. In the future, this system will continue to evolve while technology improvements in communications, hardware, as well as software.
Part of this evolution includes merging of logic controller and PAC or programmable automation controller functionality, along with the advancements in span communications from first to the top floor of plants or manufacturing sites.
PACs are usually recognized as an excellent and hardened modular controller system used in industrial plants and utilizes a Personal Computer-based processor and authorizes programming options that are out of the International Electrotechnical Commission 61131-3 language’s scope. Industrial personal computers or Inter-Process Communication is another term usually used interchangeably with Programmable Automated Controllers.
Better, Faster, Smaller
Modern processors, components, and circuit boards are beginning to get smaller throughout the industrial electronics industry. These types of technology improvements are starting to make it to PLCs, although the need for reliability ruggedness and stability slows the acceptance.
Enhancements in today’s world include additional memory capacity, new communication features, and faster processors for more improved cycle time. In response to the demand in the market, a lot of functions and features are migrating from higher to a lower-end Programmable Logic Controllers. For instance, people can expect that smaller and high-range PLCs can offer more modest and more compact solutions to meet the market’s demand and needs.
This system is also taking advantage of the decline in solid-state memory size and cost. It permits increased local data storage that allows the use of PLCs in a lot of applications traditionally requiring exorbitant data acquisition systems. It will also open doors to other features like the on-board storage of all product information, which can help expedite system troubleshooting.
Today’s PLC training is already benefiting from Universal Serial Bus technology, making it a lot easier compared to what it is before, to get on the Internet, monitor, and program the control system. The technology keeps on evolving, and with the availability of smaller mini and micro Universal Serial Bus connectors, people can expect to see this option on a lot of these smaller PLC systems.
Another example of a feature of these fast-moving consumer, industrial electronics world that is quickly making a name in the industrial control market is the non-volatile portable memory device. It offers a great benefit to the consumer of the system by providing a lot of additional memory with a small package.
These options include Universal Serial Bus devices to Secure Digital, Mini Secure Digital, and Micro Secure Digital cards, adding more or less 32 Gigabyte of additional memory to the system as needed by the user, system Integrator, or machine builder.
PLC and PAC Merge
A lot of industrial controller suppliers endorse the differences between the two systems. Still, future automation professionals, especially engineers, may not care about nomenclatures, focusing on the performance, as well as the available features when identifying their systems.
As the features and definition of both systems changes over time, PACs and PLCs will continue to merge as they evolve. During the evolution of systems, there will be a lot of room in the market for high- or low-end processors. With advances in both hardware and software technology, as well as the passage of time, it is unavoidable that advanced features can make its way into lower-tier processors as well.
It will, in turn, put a lot of pressure on suppliers to include more features, as well as options in their higher-tier products. More memory and higher-speed microprocessors will open the floodgates for more advanced features like motion control, simultaneous support for different communication protocols, as well as integration in the vision system – while still maintaining most of the simplicity that makes the system so attractive to a lot of users.
During the period of PLC versus PAC, the industry seen a much faster evolution and advancement on both classes of product. PACs allowed its users to stretch the envelope, which is considered conventional industrial automation, encouraging their suppliers to grow products to meet demands from users. The demand challenged product designers to look for new ways to help support the available parts and build them into systems that can be rugged and stand up to the punishments of the industrial environment.