If electric motors are the muscles of your automated manufacturing system, then the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is the system’s brain. Much like the way the human brain take sensory input from our eyes, ears, smell, taste and touch, PLCs are designed to handle multiple inputs from a number of various sensors and other input devices. Also just as the human brain is conditioned to respond to the input, it receives in certain ways, PLCs are programmed to take certain actions based on the data it receives.
The Differences between a PLC and a Personal Computer
Although the data handling, storage, processing power and communication capabilities of most PLCs are roughly the equivalent of today’s personal computers (PC), PLCs have a number of characteristics that makes them ideal for use in industrial applications. PLCs are designed to control very complex automated systems. This requires that they be able to receive input from numerous sensors which allow them to know what is happening along the manufacturing line, process that data almost instantaneously, and then send data or commands to machines, switches and other devices in order to ensure the entire automated manufacturing system functions properly. In comparison, PCs typically only receive input from a few sources such as keyboards, hard drives, and the mouse, just to name a few. In addition, PCs also output data to a very limited number of devices such as the computer monitor or speakers.
Another characteristic that sets PLCs apart from PCs are their durability. Because PLCs are used in harsh industrial environments, they must be able to withstand the conditions in these environments. PLCs are designed to operate in extreme temperature conditions, are immune to electrical noise and interference and are resistant to most vibration and impacts. PCs in comparison are only able to withstand minor environmental conditions as they are typically used in environments far less hostile than your average industrial factory.
In addition, due to the need for precision in most automated manufacturing processes, PLCs are individually programmed for the specific systems they are controlling. The operating systems used on PCs are simply too unreliable for use in automated manufacturing processes.
The Uses of PLCs
PLCs are used in almost every type of industry to control a vast number of automated processes including:
- Sequential relay control
- Motion control
- Process control
- Distributed control systems
- Quality control systems
PLCs are also used to control automated processes in nearly every industry including:
- Ore processing
- Oil refining
- Warehousing and distribution
- Package and mail delivery
Due to the often complex processes and variables PLCs are required to control, it is vital that they be installed properly, tested thoroughly and wired to input and output devices accurately. Failure on the part of an industrial electrician to do so can cost a business significant time and money, as well as have severe consequences including damage to automated systems, production of inferior or defective products and even serious injury or death to employees or consumers. As a result, it is crucial that business owners retain highly experienced, qualified and competent industrial electricians to install, test, repair and maintain their PLCs and automated systems.
When it comes to your PLC needs, the electricians at APower are your PLC specialists. Our knowledgeable, skilled and licensed staff of electricians are dedicated to ensuring all aspects of each automated system is installed correctly, tested thoroughly and operates safely and efficiently. At APower, we also offer a variety of industrial electrical service contracts to meet your needs and keep your PLCs and automated systems running smoothly saving your business time, money and keeping you and your employees safe. Don’t trust your business to just anyone. Contact APower today and safeguard your investments, your business and your employees from the expensive costs and severe consequences associated with a PLC or automated system failure.