Since we live in a world of manufacturing, and we use computers all around us, the logical assumption is that manufacturers will use computers to help them create and control various automation platforms and programs.
Even though you think that you know everything about computers because you own a PC, mobile device and tablet, you probably do not have enough knowledge of computers that manufacturers use to automate things. Yes, we are talking about the programmable logic controller or PLC.
It is a similar computer as general population use because it features processor and other components that we have heard of. However, the primary goal of PLC is to interact with the outside world in a matter of seconds.
Therefore, most programmers and engineers decide to enter PLC training because that way they will have more knowledge than before and find a way to get a more significant job offer due to expertise.
PLC tends to get information from the outside world by using inputs such as relays, analog, and digital sensors and other gadgets that you need for a specific industry. At the same time, it interacts with the real world through outputs such as conveyor belts, valves, motors, actuators and many more.
Between these actions, outputs, and inputs are the heart and brain behind the entire operation – programmable logic controller.
Therefore, PLC programming is creating a program by using specific language that will make a decision based on the real world input, so that it can interact with output and everything in a millisecond, which makes it the perfect solution for most markets and industries.
How Did All Start?
Before we had computer systems, workers had to control the manufacturing equipment manually. It means that person would press buttons with the idea to control these devices. For instance, an operator had to press a button to move conveyor belt to make a bottle under a spout.
Afterward, they would press another button to fill the bottle, and push the third time. It was a way better solution than doing everything manually, but today, we can replace the manual labor with every stage of automation without using people for it.
These manual control systems had wires, so that was the moment when PLC programming entered the scene. In some cases, some people used electrical wiring so that they can safeguard the machine, and those are contact relays that we usually call open and normally closed.
It means that as soon one is activated it will close the electrical circuit, while the other would open it as a result. People could push a button, or limit switch by an object so that they can activate relays. On the other side, electricians would be next to outputs, and they would use following signals to create output coil that will generate a turn on a device.
Since we live in the age with advanced sensor devices and a computer processor, these manual processes had to be replaced with computer automation programming, and that was the moment when the first PLC was integrated.
You are probably asking yourself what the difference between regular computer and PLC is. The first thing is that PLC is a way quicker solution and its primary ability is to interact quickly, which is vital in a manufacturing environment.
The primary goal of these systems was to replace manual labor and wiring by electricians, which meant that control language had to be something that electricians could deal with and understand. That was the first time when ladder logic entered the scene.
Even though this particular programming language evolved and changed over the years, even today, most PLCs are utilizing ladder logic. It is a programming language that looks similar to electrical diagrams and symbols, and the idea is to implement it on CPU so that controller could function properly.
You should click here if you want to learn more on ladder logic and its capabilities.
Have in mind that this particular type of programming looks similar to electric schematics, but it uses these symbols as function representations. For instance, input relays represent sensors in the real world, and output symbols are interfering with real-world devices. That way, you will be able to create various functions and mathematical calculations similarly as on other software.
Everything is presented in rungs, and the idea is that program scans rungs simultaneously. Since most program writers know how to write sequential programs by using script and line at a line processing, you will need appropriate training to get used to writing a program where everything happens at once.
The best thing about it is the ability to create precise and high-volume demands in the manufacturing world, and you will get it in high-speed. That is the main reason why people are using PLC and why it will remain the heart of most manufacturers.
This particular process involves understanding the machinery, the methods and to start thinking like a programmer that will readily tell you how to implement a program by considering real-world operation.
As soon as you use a computer to finish these things, you can also start taking measurements as well as data so that you can create an analysis of what is going on. The emerge of technology means that you will be able to get the information promptly without waiting for a second.
If you want to start working with PLCs, and you are an engineer that understand how things function, you should start doing it because you will be able to minimize the learning curve, which will provide you an advantage over other people who would like to get into manufacturing facilities.
Check this link: https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Light-Controller#Program_the_PLC_sub to see how to program the PLC.
The idea is to find someone competent to train you, and with it, you will always have a possibility to start working with PLC maintenance and programming, because this particular industry will only rise as time goes by.
Similar to any technology, PLCs are advancing, so you should keep up with new developments that will benefit your overall knowledge and job prospects in the future. That way you will stay ahead of your competition and have a distinguished career.