Programmable Logic Controllers in Control Panel Design

Developed as a solution to simplify the control process within the manufacturing process, Programmable Logic Controllers eradicated the need for unreliable components like relays, timers and sequencers. Since their development, they have been widely adopted as a reliable solution to automation control, particularly in harsh environments. PLCs have come a long way since their inception in the early 1960s, needless to say, they transformed the control panel industry and continue to define how we design and manufacture control panels to this day.

A brief history of the PLC

PLCs replaced relay logic systems. Large pieces of apparatus that were cumbersome and difficult to work on, relay systems involved complicated combinations of hard-wired components, so to make even a small change or update would mean rewiring whole sections and meticulously documenting the changes in the process. One incorrect wire, or one faulty relay, and an entire system would be rendered useless – which made troubleshooting somewhat of a chore.

Rather than relying on the famously unreliable components within systems for automated manufacture, the advent of digital computer technology enabled technicians to programme the control of the manufacturing process. However, in those Halcyon days of the late 1950’s, computer systems required very strict operating environments.

Their sheer size denoted the need for their own designated room, temperatures within that room were closely monitored and regulated, whilst the amount of exposed, moving parts in a computer of that time meant that cleanliness was of utmost importance. They needed a steady and reliable flow of electricity for proper functionality, and of course they could only be worked by highly trained technicians. So whilst the advantages of involving digital computers in automated industrial manufacture were plain to see, successfully integrating them to a busy factory floor didn’t seem wholly practical.

To meet all of these requirements, the PLC was developed with clear and defined attributes in order to make it suitable for all potential environments. Rugged, accessible and relatively simple to operate, the PLC would revolutionise the manufacturing industry. Fast forward sixty years to 2019, and the logic controller has diversified to suit a variety of different processes and manufacturing landscapes, whilst boasting various methods of control. From simple push button and switch controls, through to complicated graphic displays and human machine interfaces.

Incorporating programmable logic controllers into your manufacturing process

DualTEC are a team of highly skilled electrical engineers with years of experience in the design, manufacture and installation of PLC inclusive control panels. We work across a multitude of industries, from the automotive and automation industries to aerospace and food processing industries. So whether you’re in the process of developing, updating or overhauling the control systems in your workplace; DualTEC can provide expert advice, schematics, manufacture and installation to suit your company’s needs. Contact us via email or call on 01535 609314.