Getting Started with PLC Basics
To the uninitiated, working with Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) can seem daunting and confusing. However, these computers can solve all kinds of problems and keep plant operations running smoothly, so it’s essential to learn how to work with and troubleshoot them. Taking one of the many PLC courses available is crucial if you want to be able to effectively operate one of these systems. AmericanTrainco training courses are set up so that you don’t need to have background knowledge, but a general understanding of a few PLC basics can go along way before the actual training.
PLCs Are Specialized Computers
PLCs are typically used in manufacturing or industrial settings to automate controls and make quick adjustments based on real-time input. These computers can monitor input from sensors and accordingly change output on other devices or machinery. A basic PLC program will run repeatedly to make adjustments as needed based on the new input that has just been read. PLCs can also run diagnostic tests and pass on information to other systems.
PLCs are preferred to regular computers for manufacturing applications because they are designed for tougher conditions. The dust, temperature extremes, moisture, power fluctuations, and vibration that occur or are present in many factories would be problematic for a basic computer. PLCs can operate in these conditions without needing any special protection or maintenance.
PLCs Involve Many Disciplines
Working with PLCs often requires some knowledge of programming languages, basic computer operations, and the input/output interface that the PLC uses. You don’t have to be an expert in all of these areas, but a basic understanding will go a long way.
There are five programming languages that can be used in PLC software: ladder diagram, function block diagram, sequential function chart, instruction list, and structured text. The two diagrams are graphic languages, while the instruction list and structured text are text languages. A sequential function chart integrates smaller program files step by step to run a larger program. Different manufacturers and different models may use different languages, so it’s best to learn more than one or be sure of what you will be working with.
PLC users also need a basic understanding of how the device’s input and output are set up. Sometimes input and output both are connected directly to the PLC, and sometimes they feed into other devices that are networked with the PLC. Input devices are usually sensors, but switches or push buttons can also be used. Output devices could be virtually any part used during production, from a motor starter to an alarm.
PLC Use is Widespread
Most manufacturing industries make use of PLCs, which is why PLC training is a smart choice for industrial employees. PLCs have also been used for applications like mining and utility plant oversight. These computers may be used in even more applications in the future, as they can remove human error and allow for more efficient operations.
If your job requires you to work with PLCs, it’s worth your time to take a special course if on-site training isn’t available. Similarly, if employees under you work with these systems, you should provide them with training so that they can troubleshoot, program, and create new processes. It’s well worth investing time and money in proper PLC education since PLCs are so important to manufacturing operations.