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Introduction

In everyday operations or industrial processes, we come across situations where there is a need
to control some device or a physical quantity such as time, temperature, sound, light and so on,
to get the required result or output. For example, do you think an airplane would be useful to a
pilot, if he cannot make it go where he wants it to go? Or would an air-conditioner be useful, if
the temperature in a room cannot be controlled? In both the examples, there is a need to control
a process.
Electrical control can be defined as using electrical signals such as current or voltage to enable or
disable or direct a certain process. Electrical control can be achieved in different ways, for
instance; based on human interaction we can say that the control is either manual or automatic.

By: Gurdyal Singh Virk

Introduction
Manual Control: Control is said to be done manually when a user performs an action for the
system to function. For example, the user might flip the switch of a manual starter to start and
stop a motor
Automatic Control: Control is said to be automatic when the action is performed automatically in
response to a set of conditions.

Machines can be controlled manually or automatically. Usually, there is a combination of manual


and automatic control. For example, a process that is started manually may stop automatically
when certain conditions are met.

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Control System
A Control System is a system that can sense, switch and/or control an operation. It operates on an
input signal and controls the process in order to provide an output signal. This is shown in the block
diagram in fig

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Control System
In terms of output value, a control system can be classified as either Discrete control (Digital
control) or Continuous control (Analog control).
Discrete (digital) control: The value to be controlled can be either ON or OFF.
Example: Turning a light ON and OFF.
Continuous (analog) Control: The value to be controlled varies smoothly.
Example: Motor speed.

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Types of Controller
Different types of controllers could be used based on the requirements of the application. Some
examples are included below:
1. Relays and Contactors: Simple electromechanical devices like relays and contactors are most
widely used for controlling a discrete manufacturing process

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Types of Controller
2. Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs): A Programmable Logic Controller (or PLC) is a specialised
digital controller that can control machines and processes. it monitors inputs, makes decisions, and
controls outputs in order to automate machines and processes. Fig demonstrates its function.

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Types of Controller
3. Microcontrollers (Cs): Microcontroller is a special purpose computer that can do one job, for
example, the one that is used in an automatic washing machine and in a microwave.

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Programmable logic controller


A programmable logic controller (PLC) is a special form of microprocessor-based controller that uses
a programmable memory to store instructions and to implement functions such as logic,
sequencing, timing, counting and arithmetic in order to control machines and processes.

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Programmable logic controller


The term logic is used because programming is primarily concerned with implementing logic and
switching operations, e.g. if A or B occurs switch on C, if A and B occurs switch on D.
Input devices, e.g. sensors , switches and output devices in the system being controlled, e.g.
motors, valves, etc., are connected to the PLC.
The operator then enters a sequence of instructions, i.e. a program, into the memory of the PLC.
The controller then monitors the inputs and outputs according to this program and carries out the
control rules for which it has been programmed.

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Programmable logic controller


They are designed to be operated by engineers with perhaps a limited knowledge of computers and
computing languages. They are not designed so that only computer programmers can set up or
change the programs.
Thus, the designers of the PLC have pre-programmed it so that the control program can be entered
using a simple, rather intuitive, form of language.

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PLC Applications
Previously hardwired arrays of relays were used to control the operation of heavy machines that
contain motors and other high power devices.
PLCs were originally used to substitute the switching relay networks used in industrial
applications, but now they can also be used implement other tasks such as timing, delaying
counting, calculating, comparing and processing of analog signals.

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PLC v/s Microcontroller


Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) defined by NEMA as a digitally operating electronic
apparatus that uses a programmable memory for internal storage of instructions for
implementing specific functions such as LOGIC, SEQUENCING, TIMING, COUNTING and
ARITHMETIC through digital or analog INPUT/OUTPUTMODULES.
Microcontroller is a microprocessor with internal input and output and memory i.e. RAM, ROM,
PORTS.

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PLC v/s Microcontroller


Good things about PLCs:

Its microprocessor based high end thoroughly developed Product for Industry which can be
programmed through high end programming software uses its different simple to understand
Ladder programming Language.
PLC can be programmed to control anything from a power station to a small press. It has the
requisite hardware and software to do this.

PLC developed for Industrial Automation.


Development Time is less this seems to be cost effective solution in Service Industry.
Troubleshooting a PLC system is much more technician friendly and very easy to adapt and
change. Interfacing to a PLC is so much easier because it is designed for you basic machine
signals, DC/AC, A2D, High Speed Input, serial and networking. With a microcontroller, you may
have to design your own signal interfacing.
PLC is a infinitely expandable input/output logic controller usually programmed with a external
PC program
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PLC v/s Microcontroller


Good Things about Microcontroller

In case of Microcontroller the programming is some what tedious because of machine language.
A microcontroller is also a logic controller but used in dedicated systems which are programmed
once and for all, the program for which will not be accessed by the user, and whose program will
not need to be altered frequently.
Microcontrollers Developed for Dedicated equipment's.

Development Time is more.


With a microcontroller, you may have to design your
own signal interfacing. Microcontroller is not a infinitely
expandable input/output logic controller.

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PLC v/s Computer


PLC

Computer

Designed for extreme industrial environments

Designed mainly for data processing and calculation

Can operate in high temperature and humidity.

Optimized for speed

High immunity to noise.

Cant operate in extreme environments

Integrated command interpreter.

Can be programmed in different languages

No secondary memory available (in the PLC).

Lots of secondary memory available.

Optimized for Single task.

Multitasking capability.

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PLC Size
Manufacturers offer five sizes of PLCs:

1.

Nano (up to 16 I/O points)

2.

Micro (more than16 I/O points, up to 64 I/O points)

3.

Small (up to 960 I/O points)

4.

Medium (multitasking - control of several processes)

5.

Large (control management of several PLCs)

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Advantages of PLC
PLCs have the great advantage then the same basic controller can be used with a wide range of
control systems.
To modify a control system and the rules that are to be used, all that is necessary is for an operator
to key in a different set of instructions.
There is no need to rewire.
The result is a flexible, cost effective, system which can be used with control systems which vary
quite widely in their nature and complexity.
PLCs are similar to computers but whereas computers are optimised for calculation and display
tasks, PLCs are optimised for control tasks and the industrial environment. Thus PLCs are:
Rugged and designed to withstand vibrations, temperature, humidity and noise.

Have interfacing for inputs and outputs already inside the controller.
Are easily programmed and have an easily understood programming language which is primarily
concerned with logic and switching operations.
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Advantages of PLC
Increased Reliability

More Flexibility
Lower Cost
Faster Response
Easier to troubleshoot

Remote control capability


Communication Capability

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PLC Disadvantages
In contrast to microcontroller systems that have what is called an open architecture, most PLCs
manufacturers offer only closed architectures for their products
PLC devices are proprietary, which means that parts and software from one manufacturer can t
easily be used in combination with parts of another manufacturer, which limits the design and
cost options.

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PLC Hardware
Typically a PLC system has the basic functional components of processor unit, memory, power
supply unit, input/output interface section, communications interface and the programming device.
Figure shows the basic arrangement.
1.

The processor unit or central processing unit (CPU)

2.

The power supply unit.

3.

The programming device.

4.

The memory unit.

5.

The input and output sections.

6.

The communications interface

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PLC Hardware

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Internal architecture of PLC

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Internal architecture of PLC


Basic internal architecture of a PLC consists of a central processing unit (CPU) containing the
system microprocessor, memory, and input/output circuitry.
The CPU controls and processes all the operations within the PLC. It is supplied with a clock with a
frequency of typically between 1 and 8 MHz. This frequency determines the operating speed of
the PLC and provides the timing and synchronisation for all elements in the system.
The information within the PLC is carried by means of digital signals. The internal paths along
which digital signals flow are called buses. In the physical sense, a bus is just a number of
conductors along which electrical signals can flow. It might be tracks on a printed circuit board or
wires in a ribbon cable.
The CPU uses the data bus for sending data between the constituent elements, the address bus to
send the addresses of locations for accessing stored data and the control bus for signals relating
to internal control actions. The system bus is used for communications between the input/output
ports and the input/output unit.

By: Gurdyal Singh Virk

Internal architecture of PLC


The CPU: The internal structure of the CPU depends on the microprocessor concerned. In general
they have:
1.

2.
3.

An arithmetic and logic unit (ALU) which is responsible for data manipulation and carrying
out arithmetic operations of addition and subtraction and logic operations of AND, OR,
NOT and EXCLUSIVE-OR.
Memory, termed registers, located within the microprocessor and used to store
information involved in program execution.
A control unit which is used to control the timing of operations.

By: Gurdyal Singh Virk

Internal architecture of PLC


The buses

The buses are the paths used for communication within the PLC. The information is transmitted in
binary form, i.e. as a group of bits with a bit being a binary digit of 1 or 0, i.e. on/off states. The
term word is used for the group of bits constituting some information. Thus an 8-bit word might
be the binary number 00100110. Each of the bits is communicated simultaneously along its own
parallel wire.
The system has four buses:
1. The data bus.
2. The address bus.
3. The control bus.
4. The system bus.

By: Gurdyal Singh Virk

Internal architecture of PLC


Memory: There are several memory elements in a PLC system:
1.
2.
3.

4.

System read-only-memory (ROM) to give permanent storage for the operating system and
fixed data used by the CPU.
Random-access memory (RAM) for the users program.
Random-access memory (RAM) for data. This is where information is stored on the status
of input and output devices and the values of timers and counters and other internal
devices. The data RAM is sometimes referred to as a data table or register table. Part of
this memory, i.e. a block of addresses, will be set aside for input and output addresses and
the states of those inputs and outputs. Part will be set aside for preset data and part for
storing counter values, timer values, etc.
Possibly, as a bolt-on extra module, erasable and programmable read-only-memory
(EPROM) for ROMs that can be programmed and then the program made permanent.

By: Gurdyal Singh Virk

Internal architecture of PLC


Input/output unit:

The input/output unit provides the interface between the system and the outside world, allowing
for connections to be made through input/output channels to input devices such as sensors and
output devices such as motors and solenoids. It is also through the input/output unit that
programs are entered from a program panel. Every input/output point has a unique address
which can be used by the CPU.
The input/output channels provide isolation and signal conditioning functions so that sensors and
actuators can often be directly connected to them without the need for other circuitry

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Internal architecture of PLC


PLC Input Devices:

1.

Mechanical switches.

2.

Proximity switches.

3.

Photoelectric sensors and switches.

4.

Encoders.

5.

Temperature sensors.

6.

Position/displacement sensors.

7.

Strain gauges.

8.

Pressure sensors.

9.

Liquid level detector.

10. Fluid flow measurement.


11. Smart sensors.
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Internal architecture of PLC


PLC Output Devices:

1.

Relay.

2.

Directional control valves.

3.

Motors.

4.

Stepper motors.

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PLC Configurations
There are two PLC basic configurations that commercial manufacturers offer.

1.

Fixed Configuration.

2.

Modular Configuration

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PLC Configurations
Fixed Configuration:

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PLC Configurations
Modular Configuration:

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PLC Applications
A PLC can be used in a wide range of applications, some of which are shown below:

Production and assembly lines

Automatic Doors

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Traffic Lights