Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) within Factory Automation
Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) are essential components of industrial automation systems. They enable precise control and monitoring of manufacturing processes, machinery, and production lines.
Access Industrial Automation specializes in the design, programming, integration, and support of PLC systems across many industries. These include food and beverage, packaging, and automotive.
At Access Industrial Automation, we employ a team of experienced engineering professionals with expertise in major PLC platforms from Allen-Bradley, Siemens, Omron, and others. This experience allows Access Industrial Automation to deliver reliable, customized PLC solutions tailored to each client’s specific requirements.
Our focus extends beyond just equipment to providing clients with confidence that their automation systems will operate efficiently. Access Industrial Automation handles the complete life cycle, from initial design schematics to testing, commissioning, and ongoing support. This comprehensive approach demonstrates their commitment to being a premier access point to world-class automation.
Basics of PLC Programming
One of the most common PLC programming languages is Ladder Logic. This is a graphical language that uses ladder diagrams to represent logic operations. Ladder logic mimics the visual appearance of electrical control circuits. Rungs on the ladder represent series connections while separate parallel lines emulate parallel connections.
Ladder logic has inputs on the left side of the rung and outputs on the right. As inputs are energized, output coils activate according to the programmed logic. Some basic instructions used in ladder logic include XIC (examine if closed) to check if an input is on, XIO (examine if open) to check if an input is off, timers and counters to control time delays or count events, and math functions for arithmetic or comparisons.
Other PLC programming languages include Structured Text (ST) and Function Block Diagrams (FBD). ST uses lines of textual code while FBD represents logic operations through interconnected function blocks.
Access Industrial Automation has experience programming PLCs using all of these languages in order to meet each client’s preferences. Their PLC programmers understand the nuances of translating desired equipment behaviors into efficient yet robust logic sequences.
PLC Programming Environment
There are various software platforms used to program PLCs depending on the hardware brand. For Allen-Bradley PLCs, RSLogix 500 and RSLogix 5000 are commonly used. Siemens PLCs are programmed with Step 7 and TIA Portal software. Omron PLCs use Sysmac Studio while Mitsubishi Electric uses GX Works2.
These PLC programming suites provide an interface to write logic code, configure hardware settings, establish communication protocols, and simulate operation. Ladder logic and other programming languages are written by adding rungs, instructions, functions, etc. Technical data and documentation can be accessed from within the programming software.
To load programs onto a PLC, a direct USB or Ethernet connection is established or communication is routed through a SCADA server. Programmers can then upload programs to the PLC and download programs from the PLC for editing as needed. Programs are stored in the PLC’s memory.
Debugging tools are available to step through logic line by line to identify faults. Simulation modes let programmers validate sequences by mimicking inputs and outputs. This helps verify program operation without needing physical hardware.
Access Industrial Automation employs PLC platforms from all major vendors. Their team is well-versed in navigating the respective software tools to program PLCs efficiently and effectively. This allows them to develop solutions using their clients’ preferred platforms.
PLCs have widespread use in industrial automation and are found in many different industries. Some common applications include:
Manufacturing Lines: PLCs sequence operations, control motors and actuators, manage conveyor systems, and automate assembly and handling.
Packaging: Bagging, boxing, labeling, and palletizing operations rely on PLCs to coordinate machines and provide quality control checks.
Food & Beverage: PLCs automate blending, batching, filling, capping, and bottling processes with precise control.
Material Handling: Conveyors, sorters, pick-and-place robots, and automated storage and retrieval systems are controlled by PLCs.
Automotive: PLCs orchestrate machining, welding, painting, and assembly steps on automotive production lines.
PLCs are versatile controllers that provide the foundation for industrial automation. Programming PLCs involves understanding ladder logic diagrams, functions, data structures, and languages. The right PLC software allows technicians to write, upload, simulate, and debug programs for the target hardware application.
There are many industries and processes that rely on PLCs for automated operations. At Access Industrial Automation, their team has delivered PLC solutions for manufacturing, packaging, food and beverage, and beyond. Their expertise covers all major PLC brands with a focus on providing the best solution for the client’s specific needs.
For those exploring PLC programming, Access Industrial Automation has the knowledge and experience to support projects from conception through deployment. Their full life cycle services include collaborating on system design, developing ladder logic and hardware configurations, integrating software with field devices, simulation and testing, training personnel, and providing ongoing maintenance.
With a combination of technical skills, customer focus, and industry best practices, Access Industrial Automation aims to be a premier partner for PLC programming and automation. Companies looking to implement or upgrade PLC-based automation systems can rely on their expertise to bring projects to life efficiently and cost-effectively.