Industrial control systems use different kinds of computer devices. A Programmable Logic Controller or PLC is one such computer device, which is specifically built to endure harsh conditions. PLCs control these devices through constant monitoring of different inputs and by manipulating the output to replicate the desired outcome. A Programmable Logic Controller is an integral part of modern industries.
PLCs come with programmable memory with a set of pre-stored sequence of commands. Those commands allow the PLC to carry out various control functions such as relay logic, counting, timing, sequencing, and arithmetic computation. A PLC brings in flexibility as it is capable of being programmed without losing reliability. Hence, PLCs seldom encounter mechanical malfunction or program failure. This gives the PLC a definitive advantage over traditional control systems are the latter is susceptible to crashes and mechanical failures.
Types of PLCs
PLCs are available in different shapes and sizes. Some PLCs are so small that they can fit in your pocket, whereas some are so sophisticated and massive that they need customized PLC racks. Now-a-days, most of the PLCs are pre-programmed with specialized software. Ladder Logic is the most common form of programming used in PLCs these days and it uses symbols rather than words. Also, as the PLCs are programmable, even a single, small-sized PLC can replace thousands of relays and timers. All it needs is just one program.
You can program a PLC to run a single program at a very high speed. It reduces the response time drastically for all commands under its control. For instance, if a programme is used to control a machine manufacturing a specific number of parts per hour, you can program the PLC to increase this number. So, if you wish to increase the production from 20000 units per hour to 30000 units per hour, all you need is to change the program to reflect the changed demand.
As it is highly flexible, a PLC can be used in a wide range of industries. Whether it is manufacturing, travel, aerospace, printing, textiles, agriculture, or film, PLC can make a huge difference. It is likely that in any kind of automation, there will be a PLC or a set of PLCs at work.
PLCs are extremely useful for various applications in the manufacturing industry. PLCs in the control room enable the operators to enjoy better control of the devices and process. Some important manufacturing industries that rely on PLCs are:
- Food processing units
- Steel plants
- Glass manufacturing units
- Automobile industry
- Power industry
- Bottling plant
- Conveyor belt control systems
- Packaging industry
Apart from these industrial uses, PLCs are used in several devices and applications too in our everyday lives too. For example, several civilian services such as traffic control systems, elevators, burglar alarms, automatic parking, automatic tank filling, and home automation, all use PLCs.
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