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WHAT IS PLC?

A programmable logic controller (PLC) or


programmable controller is an industrial digital
computer which has been ruggedized and adapted for
the control of manufacturing processes, such as
assembly lines, or robotic devices, or any activity that
requires high reliability control and ease of
programming and process fault diagnosis.

They were first developed in the automobile


manufacturing industry to provide flexible, ruggedized
and easily programmable controllers to replace hard-
wired relays, timers and sequencers. Since then they
have been widely adopted as high-reliability
automation controllers suitable for harsh
environments. A PLC is an example of a "hard" real-
time system since output results must be produced in
response to input conditions within a limited time,
otherwise unintended operation will result.
How PLCs Work
A programmable logic controller is a specialized
computer used to control machines and
processes. It therefore shares common terms
with typical PCs like central processing unit,
memory, software and communications. Unlike a
personal computer though the PLC is designed to
survive in a rugged industrial atmosphere and to
be very flexible in how it interfaces with inputs
and outputs to the real world.
The components that make a PLC work can be
divided into three core areas.
 The power supply and rack
 The central processing unit (CPU)
 The input/output (I/O) section

PLCs come in many shapes and sizes. They can


be so small as to fit in your shirt pocket while
more involved controls systems require large PLC
racks. Smaller PLCs (a.k.a. “bricks”) are
typically designed with fixed I/O points. For our
consideration, we’ll look at the more modular
rack based systems. It’s called “modular”
because the rack can accept many different
types of I/O modules that simply slide into the
rack and plug in.
The Power Supply and Rack

So let’s start off by removing all our modules


which leaves us with a naked PLC with only the
power supply and the rack.
The rack is the component that holds
everything together. Depending on the
needs of the control system it can be
ordered in different sizes to hold more
modules. Like a human spine the rack has
a backplane at the rear which allows the
cards to communicate with the CPU. The
power supply plugs into the rack as well and
supplies a regulated DC power to other
modules that plug into the rack. The most
popular power supplies work with 120 VAC
or 24 VDC sources.
The CPU

The brain of the whole PLC is the CPU


module. This module typically lives in the slot
beside the power supply. Manufacturers offer
different types of CPUs based on the complexity
needed for the system.
The CPU consists of a microprocessor, memory
chip and other integrated circuits to control logic,
monitoring and communications. The CPU has
different operating modes. In programming
mode it accepts the downloaded logic from a
PC. The CPU is then placed in run mode so that
it can execute the program and operate the
process.
Since a PLC is a dedicated controller it will
only process this one program over and
over again. One cycle through the program
is called a scan time and involves reading
the inputs from the other modules,
executing the logic based on these inputs
and then updated the outputs
accordingly. The scan time happens very
quickly (in the range of 1/1000th of a
second). The memory in the CPU stores the
program while also holding the status of the
I/O and providing a means to store values.

I/O System

The I/O system provides the physical


connection between the equipment and the
PLC. Opening the doors on an I/O card
reveals a terminal strip where the devices
connect.
There are many different kinds of I/O cards
which serve to condition the type of input or
output so the CPU can use it for it’s
logic. It's simply a matter of determining
what inputs and outputs are needed, filling
the rack with the appropriate cards and then
addressing them correctly in the CPUs
program.
Inputs

Input devices can consist of digital or analog


devices. A digital input card handles
discrete devices which give a signal that is
either on or off such as a pushbutton, limit
switch, sensors or selector switches. An
analog input card converts a voltage or
current (e.g. a signal that can be anywhere
from 0 to 20mA) into a digitally equivalent
number that can be understood by the
CPU. Examples of analog devices are
pressure transducers, flow meters and
thermocouples for temperature readings
Outputs
Output devices can also consist of digital or
analog types. A digital output card either turns a
device on or off such as lights, LEDs, small
motors, and relays. An analog output card will
convert a digital number sent by the CPU to it’s
real world voltage or current. Typical outputs
signals can range from 0-10 VDC or 4-20mA and
are used to drive mass flow controllers, pressure
regulators and position controls.
Programming a PLC

In these modern times a PC with specially


dedicated software from the PLC
manufacturer is used to program a
PLC. The most widely used form of
programming is called ladder logic. Ladder
logic uses symbols, instead of words, to
emulate the real world relay logic control,
which is a relic from the PLC's
history. These symbols are interconnected
by lines to indicate the flow of current
through relay like contacts and coils. Over
the years the number of symbols has
increased to provide a high level of
functionality.
The completed program looks like a ladder
but in actuality it represents an electrical
circuit. The left and right rails indicate the
positive and ground of a power supply. The
rungs represent the wiring between the
different components which in the case of a
PLC are all in the virtual world of the
CPU. So if you can understand how basic
electrical circuits work then you can
understand ladder logic.
In this simplest of examples a digital input
(like a button connected to the first position
on the card) when it is pressed turns on an
output which energizes an indicator light.

The completed program is downloaded from


the PC to the PLC using a special cable
that’s connected to the front of the
CPU. The CPU is then put into run mode so
that it can start scanning the logic and
controlling the outputs.
Allen-Bradley
is the brand-name of a line of Factory Automation
Equipment manufactured by Rockwell Automation.
The company, with revenues of approximately US
$6.4 billion in 2013, manufactures programmable logic
controllers (PLC), human-machine interfaces, sensors,
safety components and systems, software, drives and
drive systems, contactors, motor control centers, and
systems of such products. Rockwell Automation also
provides asset-management services including repair
and consulting. Rockwell Automation's headquarters is
in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The Allen-Bradley Clock Tower is a Milwaukee
landmark featuring the largest four-sided clock in
the western hemisphere.
HistorY
The company was founded in 1903 as the Compression
Rheostat Company by Dr. Stanton Allen and Lynde
Bradley with an initial investment of $1,000. In 1910
the firm was renamed Allen-Bradley Company; for
close to the next century it provided the bulk of
discrete resistors used for electronics and other
products.[citation needed] In 1952 it opened a subsidiary
in Galt, Ontario, Canada, that employs over 1000
people. In 1985 a company record was set as the fiscal
year ended with $1 billion in sales. In February
1985, Rockwell International purchased Allen-Bradley
for $1.651 billion, which is the largest acquisition
in Wisconsin history.[1] For all intents and purposes,
Allen-Bradley took over Rockwell's industrial
automation division.
Rockwell eventually moved its headquarters to
Milwaukee. In 2002, when Rockwell split into two
companies, Allen-Bradley followed the automation
division into Rockwell Automation.
Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) is a system of software and
hardware elements that allows industrial organizations to:

 Control industrial processes locally or at remote locations


 Monitor, gather, and process real-time data
 Directly interact with devices such as sensors, valves, pumps, motors, and more
through human-machine interface (HMI) software
 Record events into a log file

SCADA systems are crucial for industrial organizations since they help to maintain
efficiency, process data for smarter decisions, and communicate system issues to
help mitigate downtime.

The basic SCADA architecture begins with programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or
remote terminal units (RTUs). PLCs and RTUs are microcomputers that
communicate with an array of objects such as factory machines, HMIs, sensors, and
end devices, and then route the information from those objects to computers with
SCADA software. The SCADA software processes, distributes, and displays the
data, helping operators and other employees analyze the data and make important
decisions.

For example, the SCADA system quickly notifies an operator that a batch of product
is showing a high incidence of errors. The operator pauses the operation and views
the SCADA system data via an HMI to determine the cause of the issue. The
operator reviews the data and discovers that Machine 4 was malfunctioning. The
SCADA system’s ability to notify the operator of an issue helps him to resolve it and
prevent further loss of product.

Basic SCADA Architecture


A basic SCADA diagram

Who Uses SCADA?


SCADA systems are used by industrial organizations and companies in the public
and private sectors to control and maintain efficiency, distribute data for smarter
decisions, and communicate system issues to help mitigate downtime. SCADA
systems work well in many different types of enterprises because they can range
from simple configurations to large, complex installations. SCADA systems are the
backbone of many modern industries, including:

 Energy
 Food and beverage
 Manufacturing
 Oil and gas
 Power
 Recycling
 Transportation
 Water and waste water
 And many more

Virtually anywhere you look in today's world, there is some type of SCADA system
running behind the scenes: maintaining the refrigeration systems at the local
supermarket, ensuring production and safety at a refinery, achieving quality
standards at a waste water treatment plant, or even tracking your energy use at
home, to give a few examples.

Effective SCADA systems can result in significant savings of time and money.
Numerous case studies have been published highlighting the benefits and savings of
using a modern SCADA software solution such as Ignition.

See What SCADA Can Do

View the case studies ›

The Birth of SCADA


To understand the origins of SCADA, we must understand the problems industrial
organizations are trying to solve. Before the concept of SCADA was introduced in
the mid-20th century, many manufacturing floors, industrial plants, and remote sites
relied on personnel to manually control and monitor equipment via push buttons and
analog dials.

As industrial floors and remotes site began to scale out in size, solutions were
needed to control equipment over long distances. Industrial organizations started to
utilize relays and timers to provide some level of supervisory control without having
to send people to remote locations to interact with each device.

While relays and timers solved many problems by providing limited automation
functionality, more issues began to arise as organizations continued to scale out.
Relays and timers were difficult to reconfigure, fault-find and the control panels took
up racks upon racks of space. A more efficient and fully automated system of control
and monitoring was needed.

In the early 1950s, computers were first developed and used for industrial control
purposes. Supervisory control began to become popular among the major utilities, oil
and gas pipelines, and other industrial markets at that time. In the 1960s, telemetry
was established for monitoring, which allowed for automated communications to
transmit measurements and other data from remotes sites to monitoring equipment.
The term “SCADA” was coined in the early 1970s, and the rise of microprocessors
and PLCs during that decade increased enterprises’ ability to monitor and control
automated processes more than ever before.

The Evolution of SCADA

The first iteration of SCADA started off with mainframe computers. Networks as we
know them today were not available and each SCADA system stood on its own.
These systems were what would now be referred to as monolithic SCADA systems.

In the 80s and 90s, SCADA continued to evolve thanks to smaller computer
systems, Local Area Networking (LAN) technology, and PC-based HMI software.
SCADA systems soon were able to be connected to other similar systems. Many of
the LAN protocols used in these systems were proprietary, which gave vendors
control of how to optimize data transfer. Unfortunately, these systems were
incapable of communicating with systems from other vendors. These systems were
called distributed SCADA systems.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, building upon the distributed system model, SCADA
adopted an incremental change by embracing an open system architecture and
communications protocols that were not vendor-specific. This iteration of SCADA,
called a networked SCADA system, took advantage of communications technologies
such as Ethernet. Networked SCADA systems allowed systems from other vendors
to communicate with each other, alleviating the limitations imposed by older SCADA
systems, and allowed organizations to connect more devices to the network.

While SCADA systems have undergone substantial evolutionary changes, many


industrial organizations continued to struggle with industrial data access from the
enterprise level. By the late 1990s to the early 2000s, a technological boom occurred
and personal computing and IT technologies accelerated in development. Structured
query language (SQL) databases became the standard for IT databases but were
not adopted by SCADA developers. This resulted in a rift between the fields of
controls and IT, and SCADA technology became antiquated over time.

Traditional SCADA systems still use proprietary technology to handle data. Whether
it is a data historian, a data connector, or other means of data transfer, the solution is
messy and incredibly expensive. Modern SCADA systems aim to solve this problem
by leveraging the best of controls and IT technology.

Modern SCADA Systems

Modern SCADA systems allow real-time data from the plant floor to be accessed
from anywhere in the world. This access to real-time information allows
governments, businesses, and individuals to make data-driven decisions about how
to improve their processes. Without SCADA software, it would be extremely difficult if
not impossible to gather sufficient data for consistently well-informed decisions.

Also, most modern SCADA designer applications have rapid application


development (RAD) capabilities that allow users to design applications relatively
easily, even if they don't have extensive knowledge of software development.

The introduction of modern IT standards and practices such as SQL and web-based
applications into SCADA software has greatly improved the efficiency, security,
productivity, and reliability of SCADA systems.

SCADA software that utilizes the power of SQL databases provides huge
advantages over antiquated SCADA software. One big advantage of using SQL
databases with a SCADA system is that it makes it easier to integrate into existing
MES and ERP systems, allowing data to flow seamlessly through an entire
organization.

Historical data from a SCADA system can also be logged in a SQL database, which
allows for easier data analysis through data trending.

Learn About Ignition - The New SCADA


Ignition HMI/SCADA Software

Ignition by Inductive Automation® is an industrial automation software platform that


many businesses and organizations have switched to for their HMI/SCADA needs.

Ignition has been installed in thousands of locations in over 100 countries since
2010. Its powerful and robust nature allows SCADA system integrators to reach the
demands of their customers while costing less than other SCADA software solutions.

Here are a few reasons why more enterprises are choosing Ignition:
 Ignition uses modern IT practices that make it compatible with current SCADA
system components.
 Its unique licensing model lets users pay a flat fee based on the number of
servers. Other SCADA vendors typically charge per client or per tag, but Ignition
offers unlimited clients and tags.
 Ignition is web-deployable: it can be downloaded and installed in a few minutes,
and clients can be launched or updated instantly.

Inductive Automation's motto of "Dream It, Do It" is a perfect embodiment of what


Ignition can do. While its bold claims may sound too good to be true, one
demonstration of the software proves how powerful it really is. Once you see what's
possible, you’ll begin to imagine how the software can fit your SCADA needs and
open up new possibilities.

Ignition HMI/SCADA Architecture


AUTOMATIC BOTTLE FILLING
THIS PROJECT FOCUSES ON THE AUTOMATIC BOTTLE
FILLING SYSTEM MANAGEMENT WHICH IS USED IN
NEARLY HALF OF THE INDUSTRY.FROM FILLING MILK
BOTTLES TO SOFT DRINKS MANY FACTORIES USES THIS
SYSTEM TO INCREASE THEIR OUTPUT WITH MINIMUM
MAN POWER REQUIRED AND IN A VERY SHORT PERIOD
OF TIME A LARGE NUMBER OF BOTTLES ARE FILLED,
PAKAGED AND TRANSPORTED WITH HIGH ACCURACY
OF FILLING RATE AND MINIMUM CHANCES OF ERRORS.
THIS SYSTEM CAN WASH BOTTLES ,CLEAN THEM AND
FILL THEM UPTO THE DESIRED RATE AUTOMATICALLY.
FROM FILLING BOTTLES TO PAKAGING EVERYTHING
HAPPENS IS AUTOMATIC.
BOTTLES ARE PLACED ON CONVEYOR BELT WHERE
THEY MOVE TO GET FILLED.
SENSORS ARE PUT UP ACROOS THE CONVEYOR BELT
TO DETECT VARIES FACTORS…LIKE PROPER FILLING OF
BOTTLES,NO LEAKAGE,BROKE BOTTLES ETC THESE
BOTTLES CAN BE ELIMINATED FROM THE CONVEYOR
AUTOMATICALLY AFTER THEY ARE DETECTED