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If you wish to start using the programmable logic controller so that you can handle the automation technology, you should know that it would advance as time goes by.
They entered the market at the end of the sixties, and since then, they improved similarly to other consumer technology, including getting small, fast, and more affordable than before.
You should have in mind that all PLCs operate by using an embedded processor that can run in real-time by controlling the automation all over your manufacturing factory.
It is an important addition in today’s automation work, especially when compared with other devices that you can find on the market.
When compared with industrial PCs, it is much more effective and faster, which will provide you an excellent efficiency during the production process.
From its very start, the programmable logic controller started as the alternative to thousands of timers and relays. The main goal was to simplify maintenance and support while decreasing the automation system size in the form of hardware.
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As time went by, the relay panels became obsolete, which is why industries started using rack-based PLCs with remote input/output devices.
When it comes to software, the most popular programming language is ladder logic based on the previous timers and relays, so that engineers could transition and learn it with fast turnaround.
We cannot know what the future will bring, but generally, we can present possibilities such as progressive evolution that will meet the demands of factories across the globe. The overall improvements will include more advanced software, communications, and hardware.
Apart from that, the programmable logic controller will merge with a programmable automation controller (PAC) so that you can improve general advancements and create one program that controls everything.
Better, Faster and Smaller
You should have in mind that today’s circuit boards, processors, and other components are becoming smaller and smaller than before. The improvement allowed us to create a PLC which is much more reliable, stable, and with real-time acceptance.
You can analyze the enhancements that happened in the last few years and determine that processors raised the cycle time, the communication features became faster and improved, while the memory capacity reaches the prominence when compared with the first one.
The main idea is that market demands require numerous functions and features that are required for both low and high-end controllers.
Another expectation includes the ability to enjoy in the compact and small controller that will feature all characteristics as the high-end and high-range one, but with a more compact solution that will meet everyone’s needs.
You should remember that the affordable prices of compact controllers would not affect their overall efficiency. Therefore, you will get significant local data storage so that you can use it in a wide array of applications depending on your preferences.
That will also increase its capacity to implement additional features such as product information storage as well as the ability to troubleshoot everything without external devices.
Since USB technology is affecting the world around us, controllers started implementing them, so it is much easier to monitor, program, and download the control system than before.
This particular technology will evolve, especially since the mini USB connectors became prominent so that you can communicate with large systems and reduce the overall size of the controller at the same time.
PAC and PLC Merge
It is essential to understand the difference between PACs and PLCs, especially if you are new in the game. However, you should know that in the future, most automation engineers would not care about the difference, and think about the available features and performance instead.
Of course, both definitions and features improved along the way, which means that as time goes by, both PACs and PLCs will merge and create a new and unique device that will control everything during the production process.
We have mentioned above that processors nowadays come with a low price tag, which means that the hardware will advance even more. That will lead to the ability to get advanced features for an affordable price tag, which is something that you cannot do today.
Therefore, the suppliers will have to include more options and features into high-end controllers to make them stand out from others.
When you get the high-speed processor that features significant memory, you will be able to get excellent characteristics including vision system integration, motion control as well as support for numerous communication protocols in a single device.
At the same time, these advancements will boost the design methodology, so most manufacturers will find ways to implement both components into a single system that will be able to handle the severe industrial environment.
Therefore, we can expect memory expansion, connectivity, and processing power advancements so that you can control more complicated assignments and applications for a competitive price.
Ladder Logic Changes
Back in the day, most industries used relay logic with the idea to control various automation systems. However, the relay logic became obsolete, which is why engineers started using the ladder diagram instead.
The main reason for its popularity was the convenience that both engineers and technicians could learn it with ease. However, it has numerous limitations, especially when it comes to data handling and process control.
Various protocols changed the way programming languages function and introduced other ones that you can use for programmable logic controller. However, the ladder diagram advanced as well, especially since its convenience.
You will be able to create applications by using a sequential function chart, which is much better for controlling purposes. On the other hand, you can also use structured text for manipulating data as well as other languages that come with particular advantages and disadvantages.
However, that ladder diagram is still the most popular consideration for programmers. You can find equipment controlled by PLC that uses ladder logic
Remember that a group of electricians, technicians, engineers, and maintenance personnel prefer this particular language due to its visual-based perspective and convenient programming technology.
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We can easily say that the standard for programmable logic controllers is ladder logic, which is a trend that will continue to thrive. Even though it is anchor due to its simplicity, the idea is to merge various languages to get better control as well as a programming environment.
That is the main reason why we expect the language to continue to use ladder logic, but with slight advancements that will use others, such are function block programming and structured text.