Programmable Logic Controllers for Industrial Automation

When a manufacturing plant wants to streamline its processes, automation is a winning strategy. A well-designed system will improve productivity while maintaining quality. Automation technology involves hardware and software that use pre-programmed actions to improve production.

What is programmable logic?

Every day, people make decisions based on conditions. If it is raining outside, you take an umbrella. Computer languages work with a similar kind of programmable logic. The programmer has the computer check whether a condition is true or false. Then, the system responds accordingly.

The condition could be a practical concern telling the system to make 100 widgets in a session. However, the logic can also handle safety issues. If a machine’s temperature crosses a certain threshold, the program will turn it off. If the pressure in a pipe reaches an unsafe level, the system can send an alert and adjust the flow.

PLCs and Industrial Automation

Programmable logic controllers are hardware units used in industrial settings. PLCs improve industrial automation by providing process control for a single machine. These devices maintain consistency while also offering flexibility. As manufacturing needs change, programmers can easily adjust the instructions.

Incorporating PLCs into System Architecture

In the past, industrial processes used timers and counters to control production levels. PLCs will work with these conditions, but they can do much more. Programmers can link conditional logic to several different aspects of the machine’s operation. However, ideal automation requires continuous monitoring of the whole system. While PLC hardware carries out performance monitoring on a single device, a SCADA system oversees the entire process.

SCADA Systems and Continuous Monitoring

Supervisory control and data acquisition software gathers information from sensors throughout a system. In a manufacturing setting, the SCADA system will retrieve information from every machine in the process. At a central human-machine interface, managers can observe the status of each part of the whole. They can also control features of the system remotely.

SCADA is a critical technology for many industrial sectors, but it is beneficial in settings that involve a large physical layout. For example, municipal utilities use SCADA systems to monitor the water supply as it travels through treatment plants and miles of pipes. Real-time data allows the company to resolve problems quickly with minimal disruption.

SCADA Automation Software and PLCs

Combining SCADA with programmable logic controllers allows a layered approach to automation. The PLCs provide automation for individual steps of the process. At the same time, they can transmit performance data to the SCADA system.

This setup is ideal for both safety and performance monitoring. When one piece of equipment reports a safety issue, the SCADA automation software can trigger immediate responses for the whole system. If there is no need for a system-wide response, managers can use the SCADA connection to change the individual PLC programming.

For example, programmers might set a PLC attached to an industrial lathe to set an rpm limit. However, information collected by the SCADA system indicates that this setting creates too much vibration. Managers will then receive an alert from the SCADA software. Through the HMI, they can adjust the PLC programming remotely without disrupting the operation.

SCADA software also provides resources for developing intentional maintenance programs. Real-time performance data lets maintenance crews see which units require repair. They can handle minor problems before they cause a system shutdown.

An Advanced SCADA System for Industrial Automation

High Tide Technologies develops cloud-based SCADA systems that monitor the whole system architecture of clients in the water, wastewater, and oil and gas industries. We create remote monitoring solutions that users can access on their portable devices. When you work with us, advanced process control is only a few taps away. Contact us today to learn more about how SCADA software can improve your system.