The Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) has formed the backbone of all industrial automation operations since its introduction in the late 1960s. Modern PLCs have come a long way, incorporating several upgrades pertaining to processing power, peripherals and connectivity. Several manufacturing companies have extended upgrading cycles, meaning they let their systems work as is until a problem starts to surface. But once a problem does become apparent, an upgrade is necessary.
Discrete Sensors have existed in the automation & control landscape long before the advent of Programmable Logic Controllers, supplementing relay logic. The function of a discrete sensor is to send high/low, on/off or yes/no signals to the controller regarding the quantity of a physical parameter. The obvious benefit discrete sensors had over analog ones was the absence of deadband, detection speed, analog thresholds and other similar complexities.
The RSL 400 is an outstanding laser scanner from Leuze Electronic, and is underlined by its wide scanning range, reliable operation and robust build. Featuring operating ranges up to 8.25 meters, scanning angle of 270 degrees and ability to track four protective fields simultaneously makes it a perfect one-in-all replacement for multiple scanners.
Wireless solutions are being increasingly adopted in the industrial world due to the obvious benefit of mobility they bring to the table. Technologies such as Bluetooth and WLAN have made it easier to form connections with hard to reach appliances, while keeping the installation cost under check. Anybus wireless products provide performance, reliability and security that’s at par with wired solutions, enabling industries to instill a permanent factor of flexibility and move closer towards having an Industrial IoT based system.
Launched in 1994 by HMS Industrial Networks, Anybus technology and products have proved themselves as a worthy cog in the industrial automation machine, making up for the most used 3rd part range of fieldbus connectivity products. Anybus’ functionalities can’t be confined within those of a fieldbus. It can be thought of as a range of generic products that provide support to all types of industrial fieldbus networks.
ARE YOU LOOKING TO EFFECTIVELY SHARE DATA BETWEEN PROFIBUS AND PROFINET NETWORKS? THE SOLUTION IS THE S7-1200 PLC
An underutilized item in your automation toolbox is the scripting capability embedded in your HMI software.
Quite often, the data generated by a control system requires further manipulation, massaging if you will, retransmission on alternate protocols, or long term storage on an MES/MRP system.
The default approach to these issues is typically:
- Programming in the PLC with file and data commands that are not ideally suited to the task
- Implementing a solution on a PC-based system so as to utilize third party software such as Excel
- Purchasing protocol conversion hardware such as gateways
- Saving data to text or csv files for further processing by custom written programs
While these methods can provide the required functionality, they may not be best solutions from a cost/time perspective. Depending on your role in the overall automation solution, these approaches might not even be viable.
Watch a servo or drives person in action, and it is generally only a matter of time before they are looking at a velocity vs time trace to fine tune the performance of a motor system. The reason: events that are occurring much faster than the eye can observe must be scrutinized. In Siemens TIA Portal, we have the ability to generate and save traces of our PLC logic.
Over the last three years, Siemens has been rolling out their new generation of PLC hardware. These PLC platforms, the S7-1200 and S7-1500 families, are programmed using the newer TIA Portal development environment, and offer many advantages to their legacy counterparts in the S7-200, 300, and 400 families. First and foremost, these tag-based controllers share the new Portal programming software, which means you have one software platform to cover the full breadth of product (also including most 300 and 400 series).
Getting good diagnostic information about your system components doesn't need to be a hassle anymore. With Siemens S7-300, S7-400, and S7-1500 series PLC’s, a simple checkbox can enable System Diagnostics that work in conjunction with Siemens Comfort series HMI’s. Ok, sounds good, but what is it?