Digital transformation journey graph

Design Insights: PLCs and Production; Sorting Out the Differences

April 14, 2021
A review of the day’s top trending stories from Machine Design editors.

PLCs and Production

There is a common understanding of why data collection is so important at the machine level today. The technology behind that collection also needs to be understood both to optimize the processes and to improve the performance of the workers

That’s part of the discussion in a new Machine Design article about programmable logic controllers and edge computing.  The article notes that improving connectivity within production lines also improves analytics and data management.

“As operational facilities recognize this need for data, there are compelling reasons to improve the connectivity within production lines and incorporate the ability for running analytics software applications and supporting innovative services,” author Vibhoosh Gupta of Emerson said. “The right edge technologies enable users to embark on the digital transformation journey, advancing beyond basic line control to implement insight-driven operations.”

Sorting out the Differences

The expanded use of computing has changed the landscape and the operation of many manufacturing plants, but some still are still wrestling with the alphabet soup surrounding the complex issues of plant floor data management. When do I need a programmable logic controller (PLC), when should I use a personal computer (PC) and when do I need programmable automation controllers (PACs)? And what’s the difference?

A Machine Design article on the topic lays out the similarities and differences, and stresses the need for understanding not just the hardware and software, but also how they will be used.

“After understanding each system architecture and their pros and cons, it is critical to weigh a variety of considerations to avoid ending up with a less-than-optimal motion control solution,” the article notes. “Armed with the right questions to ask before beginning the specification process, the designer can avoid making the wrong control choice.”

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