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Introduction to Programmable Logic Controller(PLC) A PROGRAMMABLE LOGIC CONTROLLER (PLC) is an industrial computer control system that continuously monitors

the state of input devices and makes decisions based upon a custom program to control the state of output devices. Almost any production line, machine function, or process can be greatly enhanced using this type of control system. However, the biggest benefit in using a PLC is the ability to change and replicate the operation or process while collecting and communicating vital information. Another advantage of a PLC system is that it is modular. That is, you can mix and match the types of Input and Output devices to best suit your application. Suppliers

Well known PLC brands include -- Siemens, Allen-Bradley, IDEC, ABB, Mitsubishi, Omron, Honeywell, Schneider Electric, Rockwell Automation, and General Electric

History of PLCs The first Programmable Logic Controllers were designed and developed by Modicon as a relay re-placer for GM and Landis. These controllers eliminated the need for rewiring and adding additional hardware for each new configuration of logic. The new system drastically increased the functionality of the controls while reducing the cabinet space that housed the logic. The first PLC, model 084, was invented by Dick Morley in 1969 The first commercial successful PLC, the 184, was introduced in 1973 and was designed by Michael Greenberg.

What Is Inside A PLC? The Central Processing Unit, the CPU, contains an internal program that tells the PLC how to perform the following functions: Execute the Control Instructions contained in the User's Programs. This program is stored in "nonvolatile" memory, meaning that the program will not be lost if power is removed Communicate with other devices, which can include I/O Devices, Programming Devices, Networks, and even other PLCs. Perform Housekeeping activities such as Communications, Internal Diagnostics, etc.

The CPU is the brain of a PLC system. It consists of the microprocessor, memory integrated circuits, and circuits necessary to store and retrieve information from memory. It also includes communications ports to other peripherals, other PLC's or programming terminals. Today's processors vary widely in their capabilities to control real world devices. Some control as few as 6 inputs and outputs (I/O) and others 40,000 or more. One processor can control more than one process or manufacturing line. Processors are often linked together in order to provided continuity throughout the process. The number of inputs and outputs PLCs can control are limited by the overall capacity of the PLC system hardware and memory capabilities. The job of the processor is to monitor status or state of input devices, scan and solve the logic of a user program, and control on or off state of output devices. RAM or Random Access Memory is a volatile memory that would lose it's information if power were removed. This is why some processor units incorporate a battery back up. The type of RAM normally used is CMOS or Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor. CMOS RAM is used for storage of the user's program (ladder logic diagrams) and storage memory. ROM or Read Only Memory is a non-volatile type of memory. you don't need an external power source to keep information. In memory, information can be read, but not changed. For this manufacture sometimes calls this firmware. It is placed there for use and operation of processor units. This means this type of reason the the internal

EEPROM or Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory is usually an add-on memory module that is used to back up the main program in CMOS RAM of the processor. In many cases, the processor can be programmed to load the EEPROM's program to RAM if RAM is lost or corrupted.

Input Module There are many types of input modules to choose from. The type of input module used is dependent upon what real world input to the PLC is desired. Some examples of inputs are limit switches, electric eyes, and pushbuttons. DC inputs, such as thumbwheel switches, can be used to enter integer values to be manipulated by the PLC. DC input cards are used for this application. Since most industrial power systems are inherently noisy, electrical isolation is provided between the input and the processor. Electromagnetic interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) can cause severe problems in most solid state control systems. The component used most often to provide electrical isolation within I/O cards is called an optical

isolator or opto coupler. The wiring of an input is not complex. The object is to get a voltage at a particular point on the card. Typically there are 8 to 32 input points on any one input module. Each point will be assigned a unique address by the processor. Analog input modules are special input cards that use analog to digital conversion (A to D) to sense variables such as temperature, speed, pressure, and position. The external device normally is connected to a controller (transducer) producing an electrical signal the analog input card can interpret. This signal is usually 4 to 20 Ma or a 0 to 10 volt signal. Output Module Output modules can be for used for ac or dc devices such as solenoids, relays, contractors, pilot lamps, and LED readouts. Output cards usually have from 6 to 32 output points on a single module. The output device within the card provides the Connection from the user power supply to the load. Usually silicon controlled rectifiers (SCR), triac, or dry contact relays are use for this purpose. Individual outputs are rated most often at 2 to 3 amperes. Output cards, like input cards have electrical isolation between the load being connected and the PLC. Analog output cards are a special type of output modules that use digital to analog conversion (D to A). The analog output module can take a value stored in a 12 bit file and convert it to an analog signal. Normally this signal is 0 -10 volts dc or 4 to 20 Ma. This analog signal is often used in equipment such as motor operated valves and pneumatic position control devices. Operation of PLC A PLC operates by continually scanning the program and acting upon the instructions, one at a time, to switch on or off the various outputs. In order to do this the PLC first "looks" at all the inputs and remembers their states (i.e. "1" or "0" / on or off) this information is then stored in memory. The PLC then scans the program instructions and decides if an output should be on or off and this is important to remember, the physical output is NOT turned on immediately. When the PLC has finished scanning the programmed instructions it will, finally, turn on the required outputs. This is called updating the process output image. At this point the PLC then checks its own operating system and if everything is ok it then goes and checks the states of the inputs and starts all over again. This is program scanning and the delay is called the program scan time.

From the above statement it should be seen that there is a delay from when an input is turned on; the program scanned and then a physical output being turned on or off. As the delay is only mS it is not usually a problem unless you are using the PLC in a high speed process. However it should be remembered that in a PLC with many thousand I/O an input could turn on and then off before the PLC has finished scanning the programmed instructions. This could result in an output coming on for one or two scans when in fact it should be off. COMMUNICATIONS There are several methods to communicate between a PLC and a programmer or even between two PLCs. Communications between a PLC and a programmer (PC or Hand held) are provided by the makers and you only have to plug in a cable from your PC to the programming port on the PLC. This communication can be RS232; RS485 or TTY. Communications between two PLCs can be carried out by dedicated links supplied/programmed by the makers (RS232 etc) or via outputs from one PLC to the inputs on another PLC. This direct link method of communication can be as simple as, if an output on the first PLC is on then the corresponding input on the second PLC will be on and then this input is used within the program on the second PLC. If a word of input/outputs (16 bits) are used then numerical data can be transferred from one PLC to the other (refer back to the section on numbering systems). There are many other methods of communication between PLCs and also from PLC to PC. Please refer to the manuals supplied with the PLC that you are using for full details on communications.

What Programming Language Is Used To Program A PLC? While Ladder Logic is the most commonly used PLC programming language, it is not the only one. The following table lists of some of languages that are used to program a PLC. Ladder Diagram (LD) Traditional ladder logic is graphical programming language. Initially programmed with simple contacts that simulated the opening and closing of relays, Ladder Logic programming has been expanded to include such functions as counters, timers, shift registers, and math operations.

Function Block Diagram (FBD) - A graphical language for depicting signal and data flows through re-usable function blocks. FBD is very useful for expressing the interconnection of control system algorithms and logic.

Structured Text (ST) A high level text language that encourages structured programming. It has a language structure (syntax) that strongly resembles PASCAL and supports a wide range of standard functions and operators. For example;


Speed1 > 100.0 then Flow_Rate: = 50.0 + Offset_A1; Else Flow_Rate: = 100.0; Steam: = ON End_If;

Instruction List (IL): A low level assembler like language that is based on similar instructions list languages found in a wide range of todays PLCs.



Sequential Function Chart (SFC): A method of programming complex control systems at a more highly structured level. A SFC program is an overview of the control system, in which the basic building blocks are entire program files. Each program file is created using one of the other types of programming languages. The SFC approach coordinates large, complicated programming tasks into smaller, more manageable tasks.

What Are Input/Output Devices?

INPUTS Switches and Pushbuttons Sensing Devices Limit Switches Photoelectric Sensors Proximity Sensors Condition Sensors Encoders Pressure Switches Level Switches Temperature Switches Vacuum Switches Float Switches

OUTPUTS Valves Motor Starters Solenoids Actuators Horns and Alarms Stack lights Control Relays Counter / Totalizer Pumps Printers Fans

PLC Scan Cycle In case of PLC, before any output devices can be turned ON or OFF, the processor has to scan the entire program that is in user memory. The program may be only of a few rungs or it may be hundreds of pages in length, depending on the equipment that is being controlled. It consists of three steps:Input Scan:- In input scan, the states of the inputs are scanned and input status table is updated accordingly. Program Scan:- In this scan, data in input table is applied to user created program, program is executed and output table is updated accordingly. Output Scan:- In this scan, the states of Outputs are generated as per the data associated with output status table.

Circuit isolation in PLC In PLC, isolation is provided using optocoupler in its internal circuit thats why it is also known as optical isolation. Optical isolation means that there is no real electrical connection between the input device and the processor. This eliminates any possibility of the unwanted (high surge or malfunctioned) input line voltage from coming in contact with and damaging the low voltage DC section of the processor.

Figure (a) Optical isolation on Input Side

Figure (b) Optical isolation on Output Side

Sinking and Sourcing Concept PLC inputs and outputs terminals are wired, based upon the concept of Sinking and Sourcing. In Sinking, the direction of current flow is inward to PLC I/O module and in sourcing, the direction of current flow is outward from PLC I/O module.


The wiring connection examples of Sink type Input and Sink type Output are shown below:-


The wiring connection example of Source type Input and Source type Output is shown below:-


Concept of State 0 and State 1 in PLC As we know, PLC is a microcontroller based programmable controller in which programs are developed in the form of Logics hence it processes the signals in binary form only. It uses binary form data i.e. in which there are only two numbers 1 and 0. Binary 1 indicates that a signal is present and Binary 0 indicates that the signal is not present.

Push Button Input1 PLC

+24V DC Input Signal is 0 as Push Button is open

Push Button Input1 PLC

+24V DC Input Signal is 1 as Push Button is closed