What You Should Know About Programmable Logic Controllers And Your Industrial Business

Posted on: 2 June 2015


A programmable logic controller can most often be found in environments like commercial manufacturing and industrial production. They are a valuable tool for automating processes. These controllers are beneficial for many different environments, including machinery controls, sensor systems and even robotics development. Unlike a standard computerized system, a programmable logic controller is durable enough to stand up to the demands of these high-pressure environments. If you're looking to simplify your processes or automate some operations, you might find that a programmable logic controller could help.

What Can They Do?

Programmable logic controllers contain a central processor as well as an interface that allows for programming or the defining of parameters. The interface is what processes all of the incoming information, checks it against the programming, and alters the system's response accordingly. The interface is where you'll find the sensors, switches and the other control devices. These controllers can support a variety of configurations and most can even handle several types of input.

As the controller receives input sent to the central processor, it then determines the proper output by comparing it to the programming stored in the memory. Then, based on that programming, it sends output to the proper device. As an example, a controller that's designed to regulate the temperature of a liquid that flows through a series of hoses may automatically turn on a fan system when the liquid temperature rises too high.

What Kinds Are There?

You can find programmable logic controllers in many styles. Here are a few types that you should explore before deciding which one is right for your situation:

  1. Unitary Controllers: These are some of the most simplistic controller designs. They typically have all of the controller components in a single case, and the case includes several ports for input and output devices. This allows you to connect a unitary controller directly to the device you want it to regulate. The on-board memory of these controllers makes it easy to store parameters for processing and programming. Having multiple ports lets you connect the controller to several different input and output sources so that you can control more than one component with it.  
  2. Modular Controllers: Modular controllers are more complex, and they allow you to connect several different modules together to construct a custom controller system. You'll need a base module to control the basic functions, such as the data processing and power regulation. All of the input sources should be connected directly to this part of the structure. From there, you can add as many extra modules as needed to handle signal conversion and versatile output options. This makes a great choice for environments like manufacturing facilities where the daily operations are dynamic. If you need to be able to respond quickly and want to ensure that everything is customizable, this may be the way to go.  
  3. Rack Mount Controllers: The rack mount controller is much like modular units in structure, only instead of connecting each module to the base unit, the modules are stored separately in a single rack system. The racks make it easy to keep each of your modules organized and accessible. Since the modules are all networked in the rack, it makes it easier for you to establish a more complex structure of controls because you can remove or relocate things easily. You've also got almost unlimited growth potential for the system, because the pieces don't attach directly to each other.

With so many choices available, it's essential that you take time to explore your needs carefully. Talk with a programmable logic controller specialist or a company like Flodyne Incorporated today to find out which system may work best in your facility.