"Ladder" diagrams

Ladder diagrams are specialized schematics commonly used to document industrial control logic systems. They are called "ladder" diagrams because they resemble a ladder, with two vertical rails (supply power) and as many "rungs" (horizontal lines) as there are control circuits to represent. If we wanted to draw a simple ladder diagram showing a lamp that is controlled by a hand switch, it would loo li e this!

The "L"" and "L#" designations refer to the two poles of a "#$ %&' supply, unless otherwise noted. L" is the "hot" conductor, and L# is the grounded ("neutral") conductor. These designations have nothing to do with inductors, (ust to ma e things confusing. The actual transformer or generator supplying power to this circuit is omitted for simplicity. In reality, the circuit loo s something li e this!

Typically in industrial relay logic circuits, but not always, the operating voltage for the switch contacts and relay coils will be "#$ volts &'. Lower voltage &' and even )' systems are sometimes built and documented according to "ladder" diagrams!

*o long as the switch contacts and relay coils are all ade+uately rated, it really doesn,t matter what level of voltage is chosen for the system to operate with. -ote the number """ on the wire between the switch and the lamp. In the real world, that wire would be labeled with that number, using heat.shrin or adhesive tags, wherever it was convenient to identify. /ires leading to the switch would be labeled "L "" and ""," respectively. /ires leading to the lamp would be labeled """ and "L #," respectively. These wire numbers ma e assembly and maintenance very easy. 0ach conductor has its own uni+ue wire number for the control system that it,s used in. /ire numbers do not change at any (unction or node, even if wire size, color, or length changes going into or out of a connection point. 1f course, it is preferable to maintain consistent wire colors, but this is not always practical. /hat matters is that any one, electrically continuous point in a control circuit possesses the same wire number. Ta e this circuit section, for e2ample, with wire 3#4 as a single, electrically continuous point threading to many different devices!

In ladder diagrams, the load device (lamp, relay coil, solenoid coil, etc.) is almost always drawn at the right.hand side of the rung. /hile it doesn,t matter electrically where the relay coil is located within the rung, it does matter which end of the ladder,s power supply is grounded, for reliable operation. Ta e for instance this circuit!

5ere, the lamp (load) is located on the right.hand side of the rung, and so is the ground connection for the power source. This is no accident or coincidence6 rather, it is a purposeful element of good design practice. *uppose that wire 3" were to accidentally come in contact with ground, the insulation of that wire having been rubbed off so that the bare conductor came in contact with grounded, metal conduit. 1ur circuit would now function li e this!

/ith both sides of the lamp connected to ground, the lamp will be "shorted out" and unable to receive power to light up. If the switch were to close, there would be a short.circuit, immediately blowing the fuse.

5owever, consider what would happen to the circuit with the same fault (wire 3" coming in contact with ground), e2cept this time we,ll swap the positions of switch and fuse (L # is still grounded)!

This time the accidental grounding of wire 3" will force power to the lamp while the switch will have no effect. It is much safer to have a system that blows a fuse in the event of a ground fault than to have a system that uncontrollably energizes lamps, relays, or solenoids in the event of the same fault. 7or this reason, the load(s) must always be located nearest the grounded power conductor in the ladder diagram. • • • • • REVIEW: Ladder diagrams (sometimes called "ladder logic") are a type of electrical notation and symbology fre+uently used to illustrate how electromechanical switches and relays are interconnected. The two vertical lines are called "rails" and attach to opposite poles of a power supply, usually "#$ volts &'. L" designates the "hot" &' wire and L# the "neutral" (grounded) conductor. 5orizontal lines in a ladder diagram are called "rungs," each one representing a uni+ue parallel circuit branch between the poles of the power supply. Typically, wires in control systems are mar ed with numbers and8or letters for identification. The rule is, all permanently connected (electrically common) points must bear the same label.

Digital logic functions
/e can construct simply logic functions for our hypothetical lamp circuit, using multiple contacts, and document these circuits +uite easily and understandably with additional rungs to our original

implemented with nothing more than contacts and a lamp."ladder. a truth table can be made to show how the logic wor s! -ow. /e can mimic the &-) logic function by wiring the two contacts in series instead of parallel! . /hat we have is a simple 1: logic function." If we use standard binary notation for the status of the switches and lamp ($ for unactuated or de.energized6 " for actuated or energized). the lamp will come on if either contact & or contact 9 is actuated. because all it ta es for the lamp to be energized is to have at least one path for current from wire L " to wire ".

The logical inversion. or -1T. we will end up with a -&-) function. & path e2ists for current from wire L" to the lamp (wire #) if and only if both switch contacts are closed. a sub(ect to be e2plored in more detail in a later chapter.closed contact instead of a normally. and de.-ow. In a special branch of mathematics nown as Boolean algebra. this effect of gate function identity changing with the inversion of input signals is described by DeMorgan's Theorem. function can be performed on a contact input simply by using a normally.closed contacts. If we ta e our 1: function and invert each "input" through the use of normally. the lamp energizes only if contact & and contact 9 are simultaneously actuated. .open contact! -ow. the lamp energizes if the contact is not actuated.energizes when the contact is actuated.

if we ta e our &-) function and invert each "input" through the use of normally.The lamp will be energized if either contact is unactuated. Li ewise. we will end up with a -1: function! . It will go out only if both contacts are actuated simultaneously.closed contacts.

In the following e2ample.1: function built from a combination of &-).closed contacts are e+uivalent to a -1T gate (inverter). *eries contacts are e+uivalent to an &-) gate. we have an 02clusive. /e can build combinational logic functions by grouping contacts in series. 1:.parallel arrangements.& pattern +uic ly reveals itself when ladder circuits are compared with their logic gate counterparts! • • • . and inverter (-1T) gates! .arallel contacts are e+uivalent to an 1: gate. as well. -ormally.

closed contact.#" instead of two "&" labels. 7or instance. if we want to energize a load based on the inverse. we must use a relay with a normally.s sa e. such as "&."" and "&. To ma e the 02clusive.generated logic function. as are the two "9" contacts. *ometimes. This may be especially useful if you want to specifically designate which set of contacts on each switch or relay is being used for which part of a circuit. If we wish to invert the output of any switch. If you see a common label for multiple contacts. 7or simplicity. of a normally. as each new contact on any switch or relay (either normally. I. The common association between contacts is denoted by the label of the contact. in allowing either rung " or rung # to energize the lamp.closed) used in the diagram is simply mar ed with the same label. The two "&" contacts are physically actuated by the same mechanism.The top rung (-' contact & in series with -1 contact 9) is the e+uivalent of the top -1T8&-) gate combination.ll refrain from such elaborate labeling in this lesson. There is no limit to how many contacts per switch can be represented in a ladder diagram. multiple contacts on a single switch (or relay) are designated by a compound labels.open contact.open or normally. you now those contacts are all actuated by the same mechanism. The parallel connection between the two rungs at wire number # forms the e+uivalent of the 1: gate. we could do this! . The bottom rung (-1 contact & in series with -' contact 9) is the e+uivalent of the bottom -1T8&-) gate combination.1: function. we had to use two contacts per input! one for direct input and the other for "inverted" input. or -1T.

to.s actuation status. the contact on the second rung opens.-&-). such as the 1:. The normally. &pplying this inversion strategy to one of our inverted." or ': ". thus de. 7rom switch & to the coil of ': ". the logic function is noninverted.closed contact actuated by relay coil ': " provides a logical inverter function to drive the lamp opposite that of the switch.input functions created earlier. we can invert the output with a relay to create a noninverted function! . "control relay "./e will call the relay. energizing the lamp. /hen the coil of ':" (symbolized with the pair of parentheses on the first rung) is energized.

the logical function is that of a -&-) gate.) contacts are logically e+uivalent to a -1T gate. -ormally closed (-.7rom the switches to the coil of ':". and each permissive switch contact . 0ach process condition is called a permissive. the control system re+uests "permission" from several process switches. • • • • • REVIEW: .'.s normally. etc. ': ". In order for the burners in a large furnace to be started safely. & relay must be used to invert the output of a logic gate function. Permissive and interlock circuits & practical application of switch and relay logic is in control systems where several process conditions have to be met before a piece of e+uipment is allowed to start. access door position. air fan flow chec .arallel contacts are logically e+uivalent to an 1: gate. *eries contacts are logically e+uivalent to an &-) gate. while simple normally. closed contact provides one final inversion to turn the -&-) function into an &-) function. & good e2ample of this is burner control for large combustion furnaces. closed switch contacts are sufficient to represent inverted gate inputs. e2haust stac damper position. including high and low fuel pressure.

energize. and we don. the circuit will be opened! If all permissive conditions are met. In real life. -ote that the high fuel pressure contact is normally. and we want this switch to open with e2cessive (high) pressure. This is because we want the switch contact to open if the fuel pressure gets too high. and the red lamp will light. &nother practical application of relay logic is in control systems where we want to ensure two incompatible events cannot occur at the same time. where two motor contactors are wired to switch polarity (or phase se+uence) to an electric motor. all closed.closed. *ince the "normal" condition of any pressure switch is when zero (low) pressure is being applied to it.t want the forward and reverse contactors energized simultaneously! .is wired in series. &n e2ample of this is in reversible motor control. so that if any one of them detects an unsafe condition. ':# will de. If any one of the permissive conditions are not met. we must choose a switch that is closed in its normal state. the series string of switch contacts will be bro en. ':" will energize and the green lamp will be lit. more than (ust a green lamp would be energized! usually a control relay or fuel valve solenoid would be placed in that rung of the circuit to be energized when all the permissive contacts were "good!" that is.

so long as no one pushes both buttons at the same time. 1bviously. and ') are connected directly to terminals ".versa. when contactor < # is energized. which is the thermal overload contact activated by the "heater" elements wired in series with each phase of the &' motor. & going to motor terminal # and 9 going to motor terminal ".circuited together by virtue of the fact that contactor <" sends phases & and 9 straight to the motor and contactor < # reverses them6 phase & would be shorted to phase 9 and visa. 5owever. This control system will wor fine. and = of the motor. respectively. which will prevent either contactor from energizing.closed "1L" contact. phases & and 9 would be short. 9. This reversal of phase wires results in the motor spinning the opposite direction. Let. phases & and 9 are reversed. this is a bad control system design> .s e2amine the control circuit for these two contactors! Ta e note of the normally. the contact will change from its normal (closed) state to being open. the = phases (&. If the heaters get too hot. If someone were to do that./hen contactor <" is energized. #.

*witch contacts designed to prevent a control system from ta ing two incompatible actions at once (such as powering an electric motor forward and bac ward simultaneously) are called interlocks. electrical interloc s may still be used.s see how the second approach is implemented. even if the ":everse" pushbutton is actuated. <". how additional wire numbers (? and 4) were added to reflect the wiring changes. but the motor will run only as long as each pushbutton switch is held down. or we could add some more relay logic to "latch" the control circuit with a single. Let. 7or additional safety. Li ewise. • • • REVIEW: *witch contacts installed in a rung of ladder logic designed to interrupt a circuit if certain physical conditions are not met are called permissive contacts. This is called interlocking.To prevent this occurrence from happening. when <" is energized.s energization is prevented when <# is energized. thus preventing <# from being energized. *ome contactors come e+uipped with the option of a mechanical interloc ! a lever (oining the armatures of two contactors together so that they are physically prevented from simultaneous closure.closed au2iliary contact on the second rung will be open.circuit condition. as well.s motor control circuit wor fine. we can design the circuit so that the energization of one contactor prevents the energization of the other. Motor control circuits The interloc contacts installed in the previous section. and due to the simplicity of the circuit there is no good reason not to employ them in addition to mechanical interloc s. -ote. as such! -ow. If we wanted to eep the motor running even after the operator ta es his or her hand off the control switch(es). the normally. momentary actuation of either switch. It should be noted that this is not the only way to interloc contactors to prevent a short. we could change the circuit in a couple of different ways! we could replace the pushbutton switches with toggle switches. because the system re+uires permission from these inputs to activate. since it is commonly used in industry! . and it is accomplished through the use of au2iliary contacts on each contactor.

The same sort of thing will happen when the ":everse" pushbutton is pressed. closing the normally. 5owever.open au2iliary contact in parallel with that switch. the closed < " au2iliary contact will maintain current to the coil of < ". the motor will run either forward or bac ward once the corresponding pushbutton switch is pressed. thus latching the "7orward" circuit in the "on" state. /hen the pushbutton is released. These parallel au2iliary contacts are sometimes referred to as seal-in contacts. Stop! . To stop either circuit (forward or bac ward). this creates a new problem! how to stop the motor> &s the circuit e2ists right now. we re+uire some means for the operator to interrupt power to the motor contactors. < " will energize. the word "seal" meaning essentially the same thing as the word latch. and will continue to run as long as there is power./hen the "7orward" pushbutton is actuated.ll call this new switch. /e.

the motor would struggle to overcome that inertia of the large fan as it tried to begin turning in reverse. and fan. while the fan coasts to a halt. drive mechanisms.closed contacts. will conduct power to either forward or reverse circuits when released. the motor might continue to coast for a substantial amount of time after the stop button had been pressed.delay contact to do is to open the starting. de. such as a large air fan. If our hypothetical motor turned a mechanical load with a lot of momentum.s begin by adding a couple of time.s consider another practical aspect of our motor control scheme before we +uit adding to it. one in parallel with each motor contactor coil.energizing the energized contactor. which will open either forward or reverse circuit. The "*top" switch. Let. having normally.in contact to its normal (open) state. /hat we might li e to have is some ind of a time. they may be "unlatched" by momentarily pressing the "*top" pushbutton. if either forward or reverse circuits are latched. *o far. If we use contacts that delay returning to their normal state. drawing e2cessive current and potentially reducing the life of the motor.switch leg of the opposite rotation circuit for several seconds. If the fan was still coasting forward and the ":everse" pushbutton was pressed. so good. /hat we want each time. .delay relay coils. This could be problematic if an operator were to try to reverse the motor direction without waiting for the fan to stop turning. and returning the seal. these relays will provide us a "memory" of which direction the motor was last powered to turn.delay function in this motor control system to prevent such a premature startup from happening. Let.-ow.

timed. T)# will prevent the "7orward" pushbutton from energizing <" until the prescribed time delay after <# (and T)#) have been de. since they immediately open when their respective relay coils are energized. The careful observer will notice that the time.If the motor has been running in the forward direction. /hen T)" times out. the contact will close and the circuit will allow <# to be energized.closed state. both < " and T)" will have been energized.t be energized.closed contact of T) " between wires @ and 4 will have immediately opened the moment T)" was energized. contact T)" waits for the specified amount of time before returning to its normally. /e can get rid of au2iliary contacts < " and <# for interloc s and (ust use T)" and T)#. thus holding the reverse pushbutton circuit open for the duration so < # can. thus "loc ing out" one contactor if the other is energized.s contacts.energized. In li e manner. The resulting circuit has the advantage of being simpler than the previous e2ample! . and preventing the same contactor from energizing until a prescribed time after motor shutdown. /hen the stop button is pressed.interloc ing functions of T) " and T)# render the <" and <# interloc ing contacts redundant. This being the case. 0ach time delay relay will serve a dual purpose! preventing the other contactor from energizing while the motor is running. the normally. if the reverse pushbutton is pressed.closed.

Fail-safe design Logic circuits. In control systems. Time delay relays are commonly used in large motor control circuits to prevent the motor from being started (or reversed) until a certain amount of time has elapsed from an event. *uppose that a large laboratory or industrial building is to be e+uipped with a fire alarm system.state gates. safety is (or at least should be) an important design priority. and one of those ways happens to hold certain advantages in safety over the others.open switch contacts and connect them all in parallel with each other! . so that once the contactor is energized it maintains power to itself and eeps itself "latched" on. can be built in many different ways to perform the same functions. activated by any one of several latching switches installed throughout the facility. then that design is the better one to choose. Let. whether comprised of electromechanical relays or solid.in" contact from the contactor is connected in parallel with the start switch. open "seal.s ta e a loo at a simple system and consider how it might be implemented in relay logic.• • • • REVIEW: <otor contactor (or "starter") coils are typically designated by the letter "<" in ladder logic diagrams. but there are usually ways that are better than others. &t first glance it seems as though the relay logic should be incredibly simple! (ust use normally. If there are multiple ways in which a digital control circuit can be designed to perform a tas . 'ontinuous motor operation with a momentary "start" switch is possible if a normally. The system should wor so that the alarm siren will energize if any one of the switches is actuated. There is usually no one "correct" way to design a comple2 logic circuit.

ll limit it to four in this e2ample to eep things simple. The nature of electric circuits is such that "open" failures (open switch contacts. /e could e2pand this circuit to include any number of switch inputs. Let.) are statistically more li ely to occur than any other type of failure. but I. etc. it is an elementary system and there seems to be little possibility of trouble. bro en wire connections. 02cept in the event of a wiring failure. &t any rate. /ith that in mind.0ssentially. that is. it ma es sense to engineer a circuit to be as tolerant as possible to such a failure. open relay coils.s suppose that a wire connection for *witch 3# were to fail open! . blown fuses. each new switch being added to the parallel networ . this is the 1: logic function implemented with four switch inputs.

we would have to re. the circuit is more comple2 than it was before the addition of the control relay. due to its intended design to default to the safest mode in the event of a common failure such as a bro en connection in the switch wiring.s still a safer design than the original circuit.closed and in series with each other. the wor ers in the facility will now that something failed in the alarm system and that it needs to be repaired. obviously. thus eeping contact ':" open. a scenario much more preferable than that of having a switch silently fail and not function when needed.energized.energize. relay ':" will de. /hat if the system were re. the alarm will sound. In order to achieve this design goal.engineered so as to sound the alarm in the event of an open failureB That way. but it. Ta e for e2ample an electrically. This means we should specify a valve that turns on (opens . Anless the system were regularly tested (a good idea anyway). That being the case. rather than a closed contact.closed contact for the siren! /hen all switches are un actuated (the regular operating state of this system). If it.re controlling with this valve.safe design always starts with an assumption as to the most li ely ind of wiring or component failure. /e already now that an open failure in the wiring or solenoid coil is more li ely than a short or any other type of failure.s cooling water we. 0nergizing the solenoid coil will move an armature which then either opens or closes the valve mechanism. and thus preferable from the standpoint of safety. closing contact ':" and sounding the alarm. if any of the switches are actuated. 7ail.actuated (solenoid) valve for turning on cooling water to a machine. the "safest way" being determined by the physical characteristics of the process. is not good in a fire alarm system. powering a relay coil which then activates a normally.energized. the result would be that *witch 3# would no longer energize the siren if actuated. so we should design this system to be in its safest mode with the solenoid de. and then tries to configure things so that such a failure will cause the circuit to act in the safest way. This design of circuit is referred to as fail-safe. the conse+uences of a machine running without coolant usually being severe. no one would now there was a problem until someone tried to use that switch in an emergency. /hen it is discovered that the alarm is false. This. and the system could still fail in the "silent" mode with a bro en connection in the bottom rung. if there is a brea in the wiring anywhere in the top rung of the circuit. &lso. preventing the siren from being powered. the switches will have to be normally. depending on what ind of valve we specify. chances are it is safer to have the cooling water turn on in the event of a failure than to shut off. Cranted. 5owever.If this failure were to occur. a failure in the wiring would result in a false alarm. relay ': " will be energized.wire the switches so that an open contact sounded the alarm. & spring will return the valve to its "normal" position when the solenoid is de.

and that an electrical control system. To have a large circuit brea er indiscriminately trip open is no small matter. but what is the safest state of the system! brea er open or brea er closedB &t first. a fail. If a protective relay detects an overcurrent condition while the control wiring is failed open. The most common type of wiring and component failure is an "open" circuit. meaning that any open failure in the control wiring will go unnoticed. things are not so simple in the world of high power. Li e the first fire alarm system design. should we design it so that the relay closes a switch contact to send a "trip" signal to the brea er.level control devices. This may seem "bac wards" to have the valve set up this way. 5owever. especially when customers are depending on the continued supply of electric power to supply hospitals.energized and turns off (closes down) when energized.s (open) failure mode should be such that it indicates and8or actuates the real.. it will not be able to trip open the circuit brea er. . the "silent" failure will be evident only when the system is needed.safe system should be designed to default to its safest mode of operation in the case of an open circuit.t a better alternative. 7or this reason. to engineer the control circuitry the other way .life process in the safest alternative mode. but have been replaced in many of their former roles as logic. 5owever. but it will ma e for a safer system in the end. and other important infrastructures. &t least here. logical control systems were designed and built e2clusively around electromechanical relays. (ust li e we had the fire alarm system default to an alarm state with any switch or wiring failure. :elays are far from obsolete in modern design. or bro en connection.. simply leaving the brea er in the status +uo position. or opens a switch contact to interrupt a regularly "on" signal to initiate a brea er tripB /e now that an open connection will be the most li ely to occur.state logic circuits.safe system design. really isn. &n entire boo could be written on the principles and practices of good fail. telecommunications systems. so that any open failure would immediately shut the circuit brea er off. power system engineers have generally agreed to design protective relay circuits to output a closed contact signal (power applied) to open large circuit brea ers. you now a couple of the fundamentals! that wiring tends to fail open more often than shorted.up) when de. potentially blac ing out large potions of the power grid .safe design is in the power generation and distribution industry. • • • REVIEW: The goal of fail-safe design is to ma e a control system as tolerant as possible to li ely wiring or component failures. These fundamental principles e2tend to non. water treatment systems. 1ne interesting application of fail.electrical systems as well! identify the most common mode of failure. If a 4$84" relay (instantaneous and time over current) is going to command a circuit brea er to trip (open) in the event of e2cessive current. relegated most often to those applications demanding high current and8or high voltage switching. then engineer the system so that the probable failure mode places the system in the safest condition. where large circuit brea ers need to be opened and closed by electrical control signals from protective relays. it would seem that it would be safer to have a large circuit brea er trip (open up and shut off power) in the event of an open fault in the protective relay control circuit. Therefore. Is this an ideal situationB 1f course not. Programma le logic controllers 9efore the advent of solid.

proprietary terms as a !"C. &s an acronym.L' programming here.s internal circuitry. purpose control computers. and as such their input and output signals are typically "#$ volts &'. which may be programmed to do a variety of logical functions. Two screw terminals provide connection to "#$ volts &' for powering the . small motors. *i2 screw terminals on the left. connected between each input terminal and the 'ommon terminal.L' was to directly replace electromechanical relays as logic elements. & . manufacture. Inside the . It also has many output terminals. able to emulate the interconnection of many relays to perform certain logical tas s. In an effort to ma e .0mitting )iode) that provides an electrically isolated "high" logic signal . contactors. through which it interprets "high" and "low" logical states from sensors and switches. *ignal connection and programming standards vary somewhat between different models of .left screw terminal is a "'ommon" connection. 1ther engineering firms developed their own versions of this device.state digital computer with a stored program. this is the e2ception and not the rule. labeled L" and L#. The following illustration shows a simple .s an &merican company named 9edford &ssociates released a computing device they called the MODICO . as it might appear from a front view. and sale of these special. substituting instead a solid. solenoids. or Programmable Logic !ontroller. Instead.*ystems and processes re+uiring "on8off" control abound in modern commerce and industry.L'. but such control systems are rarely built from either electromechanical relays or discrete logic gates.L'. The lower. The purpose of a .L's easy to program. an industrial electrician or electrical engineer accustomed to reading ladder logic schematics would feel comfortable programming a . and later became the name of a company division devoted to the design.isolator device (Light. their programming language was designed to resemble ladder logic diagrams. which is generally connected to L# (neutral) of the "#$ %&' power source.L' has many "input" terminals.L's are industrial computers.L' housing. each terminal representing a different input "channel" with its own "F" label.L'. it meant Modular Digital !ontroller. . Thus. &lthough some . and other devices lending themselves to on8off control.level )' voltage signals of the magnitude used in logic gate circuits. (ust li e the electromechanical control relays they were designed to replace. and it eventually came to be nown in non. digital computers fill the need.L' to perform the same control functions. In the late "DE$. is an opto. but they are similar enough to allow a "generic" introduction to .hand side provide connection to input devices.L's have the ability to input and output low. through which it outputs "high" and "low" signals to power lights.

an indicating L0) on the front panel of the . &n indicating L0) on the front panel of the . correspondingly.s light) when there is "#$ %&' power applied between the respective input terminal and the 'ommon terminal.transistor interprets the L0). &s with each input." labeled output terminals.s circuitry (a photo. T:I&'.s computer circuitry activating a switching device (transistor.L' gives visual indication of an "energized" output! .L'. The "*ource" terminal. or even an electromechanical relay).to the computer. connecting the "*ource" terminal to any of the "G. is usually connected to the L" side of the "#$ %&' power source.L' gives visual indication of an "energized" input! 1utput signals are generated by the .

if you will.L' to create the logical relationships between input and output.L' by means of a computer program.In this way. 'onsider the following circuit and . The actual logic of the control system is established inside the .L' program! . there are no actual switch contacts or relay coils operating inside the .s programming port. the .L'. with switch and relay symbols. These are imaginar# contacts and coils.L' is able to interface with real. This program dictates which output gets energized under which input conditions.world devices such as switches and solenoids. The program is entered and viewed via a personal computer connected to the . &lthough the program itself appears to be a ladder logic diagram.

open F" contact will "close. and the indicator lamp connected to it remains dar ./hen the pushbutton switch is un actuated (un pressed). as though they were relay contacts actuated by the energizing of a relay coil named "F"". which shows a normally. no power is sent to the F" input of the . the . Thus. 7ollowing the program. lighting up the lamp connected to it! . &ny and all F" contacts appearing in the program will assume the actuated (non.L'. no "power" will be sent to the G" coil.s G" output remains de." sending "power" to the G" coil. /hen the G" coil of the program "energizes.L'.normal) state. however. energizing the F" input will cause the normally. power will be sent to the .L'." the real G" output will become energized. In this case.s F" input.energized. If the pushbutton switch is pressed.open F" contact in series with a G" coil.

I include the personal computer display in these illustrations for your sa e only.L'.s status ("power" through virtual contacts and virtual coils).L' is a programmable device. They e2ist as commands in a computer program . G" coil. a piece of software only .and.life conditions (switch closure and lamp status) and the program. and "power" appearing in the personal computer. *ince the . 0+ually important to understand is that the personal computer used to display and edit the . connecting wires.L' from the personal computer.s continued operation.lamp circuit function in an inverted . 7or e2ample. that (ust happens to resemble a real relay schematic diagram.s display are all virtual. we can alter its behavior by changing the commands we give it.It must be understood that the F" contact. without having to reconfigure the electrical components connected to it.L' is revealed when we want to alter the behavior of a control system. They do not e2ist as real electrical components.L'. suppose we wanted to ma e this switch. the personal computer may be unplugged from the . 1nce a program has been loaded to the .. and the ..s program is not necessary for the .L' will continue to follow the programmed commands. in aiding to understand the relationship between real.L'. The true power and versatility of a .

the switch is shown actuated (pressed)! . we have the altered system shown in the state where the pushbutton is unactuated (not being pressed)! In this ne2t illustration. and release it to ma e it turn on. In the following illustration. The "software" solution is much easier! (ust alter the program so that contact F" is normally.closed rather than normally. The "hardware" solution would re+uire that a normally.closed pushbutton switch be substituted for the normally.open switch currently in place.fashion! push the button to ma e the lamp turn off.open.

1ne of the advantages of implementing logical control in software rather than in hardware is that input signals can be re. ta e the following circuit and program.used as many times in the program as is necessary. designed to energize the lamp if at least two of the three pushbutton switches are simultaneously actuated! . 7or e2ample.

open contacts each would have to be used. since each input and each output is nothing more than a single bit in the .s digital memory (either $ or "). a motor start. we can program as many contacts as we wish for each "F" input without adding additional hardware.L' program "actuated" by an output (G) status. we can assign contacts in a .stop control circuit! . to provide two contacts per input switch. since each output in the .L' is nothing more than a bit in its memory as well. three relays with two normally.To build an e+uivalent circuit using electromechanical relays. and can be recalled as many times as necessary. 7urthermore.L'. Ta e for instance this ne2t system.L'. however. Asing a .

The pushbutton switch connected to input F" serves as the "*tart" switch.in contact. Gou can see the normally. while the switch connected to input F# serves as the "*top." thus latching the "circuit" in an energized state! . uses the output coil status as a seal. input F" would energize." energizing the G" output and applying "#$ volt &' power to the real motor contactor coil. directly. sending "power" to the G" "coil. The parallel G" contact will also "close. thus "closing" the F" contact in the program." &nother contact in the program. so that the motor contactor will continue to be energized after the "*tart" pushbutton switch is released. showing that it is in a closed ("electrically conducting") state. named G". If we were to press the "*tart" button.closed contact F# appear in a colored bloc .

if we release the "*tart" pushbutton. but the motor will continue to run because the G" seal.in "contact" continues to provide "continuity" to "power" coil G". thus eeping the G" output energized! .-ow.open F" "contact" will return to its "open" state. the normally.

To stop the motor.closed "contact. which will energize the F# input and "open" the normally." brea ing continuity to the G" "coil!" . we must momentarily press the "*top" pushbutton.

however. returning "contact" F# to its normal. input F# will de. The motor. "closed" state.in" of G" has been lost! ./hen the "*top" pushbutton is released. because the "seal.energize. will not start again until the "*tart" pushbutton is actuated.

In this motor control circuit e2ample. there would be no way to stop the motor> The solution to this problem is a reversal of logic between the F# "contact" inside the . 1ne should always consider the effects of failed (open) wiring on the device or devices being controlled.controlled systems as it is in electromechanical relay.L' program and the actual "*top" pushbutton switch! .&n important point to ma e here is that fail-safe design is (ust as important in .L'.controlled systems. we have a problem! if the input wiring for F# (the "*top" switch) were to fail open.

L's provide "internal" coils and contacts with no intrinsic connection to the outside world./hen the normally. etc. ':#. if the input wiring on input F# were to fail open. input F# will de. and allows it to continue to run when the "*tart" pushbutton is no longer pressed. The result. the . This allows the motor to be started when input F" is energized. *o. where a "*top" switch wiring failure would have resulted in an inabilit# to turn off the motor. we see there is no operational difference between this new design and the previous design.closed "*top" pushbutton switch is un actuated (not pressed).) are used in standard relay circuits! to provide logic signal inversion when necessary.L'. These are used much the same as "control relays" (':". In addition to input (F) and output (G) program elements. thus "closing" the F# "contact" inside the program.energize in the same manner as when the "*top" pushbutton is pressed.L' program and shutting off the motor. . This is a safer design than the one previously shown. F# input would de. for a wiring failure on the F# input is that the motor will immediately shut off. then. 5owever. . thus "opening" the F# "contact" inside the . /hen the "*top" pushbutton is actuated.s F# input will be energized. energize.

To ma e the lamp turn off. the lamp will remain lit so long as an# of the pushbuttons remain unactuated (unpressed). we will have to actuate (press) all three switches. I will call the internal control relay "'"" rather than "':"" as would be customary in a relay control circuit! In this circuit. li e this! .To demonstrate how one of these "internal" relays might be used. *ince . designed to emulate the function of a three.input -&-) gate.L' program elements are typically designed by single letters. consider the following e2ample circuit and program.

L'. and other advanced functions with far greater accuracy and reliability than what is possible using electromechanical logic devices.delay relays).L's have the capacity for far more than si2 inputs and si2 outputs.9radley . The following photograph shows several input and output modules of a single &llen.This section on programmable logic controllers illustrates (ust a small sample of their capabilities.L's can perform timing functions (for the e+uivalent of time. . &s computers. <ost . . drum se+uencing.

especially considering the e+uivalent space that would be needed by electromechanical relays to perform the same functions! .L' ta es up little room./ith each module having si2teen "points" of either input or output. a .L' has the ability to monitor and control dozens of devices. 7it into a control cabinet. this .

L's that simply cannot be duplicated by electromechanical relays is remote monitoring and control via digital computer networ s.L' is nothing more than a special. it has the ability to communicate with other computers rather easily. The actual pumping station is located miles away from the personal computer display! . 9ecause a .1ne advantage of . The following photograph shows a personal computer displaying a graphic image of a real li+uid. or "lift.L'.purpose digital computer." station for a municipal wastewater treatment system) controlled by a .level process (a pumping.