A Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is an electronic device used to monitor or control production processes. It is a device that a user can program to perform a series or sequence of events. These events are triggered by inputs received at the programmable logic controller through delayed actions such as time delays.
Once an event triggers, it actuates in the outside world by switching on or off electronic control gear or the physical actuation of devices. A Programmable Logic Controller will continually loop through its user defined program, waiting for inputs and giving outputs at the specific programmed times. They are designed to function in industrial environments and can withstand extreme temperatures, humidity, vibration and electrical noise.
Generally, PLCs are tasked with monitoring or controlling a group of sensors and actuators. PLCs are basically like industrial computers because they have microprocessors but are more robust than the average home computer. PLCs use a different language than home PCs as well.
PLCs eliminate the need to rewire or add additional hardware to make things work. They increase the functionality of controls and don’t take up a large amount of physical space. They are also flexible and easy to modify as application needs change. Utilizing programmable logic controllers is a cost-effective method of controlling complex systems. PLCs are best used in applications where machinery can work on its own without human labor having to constantly monitor.
What kind of industries utilize PLCs? Some of the many examples of practical PLC applications are listed below:
- Leisure/Theme Parks
- Travel/Tansportation Industry
- Textile Industry (e.g Textile Shrinkage Systems, Industrial Batch Washing Machines)
- Plastics/Injection moulding control
- Film/Camera Positioning
- Material Handling (e.g Conveyors, Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems)
In addition to the items listed above there are endless manufacturing operations that utilize PLCs to control their systems.
Watch Our Video: What Is A PLC?
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