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In the world of industry and production, there have been many changes throughout the history of the field. One of the greatest and most important changes has been the advent of the PLC or Programmable Logic Controller. The PLC is still being used in many industries and factories to this day on a multitude of machines and operations. But how did this come to be? What necessitated the invention of this wonderful asset to the production industry?
The production industry went through a boom phase during the wars of the 20th century, America was in high production during World War II for the war effort and the economy was booming in the 1950’s. Factories at the time were keeping up with the demand. But just barely as the machines of that era were venerable and dependable to a point.
These machines were using relays and now archaic execute commands which were state-of-the-art at the time. The other side to this was that the machines were prone to relay failures and when those happened, the entire line had to stop until it was fixed.
Fixing relay problems in those days was very time-consuming as you had to test one relay at a time until the faulty one was discovered. For a machine with 30 or 40 relays, you can imagine the amount of valuable production time that was lost due to these failures and fixes.
Sometimes, production was halted for over an hour before the technicians could locate the troublesome relay that was causing the problem. Clearly, something different had to be figured out and implemented to replace using relays in the future.
This finally happened in the late 1960’s with Richard Morley, Morley invented the modern Programmable Logic Controller. This invention was one of the first uses of solid-state computing in an industrial setting. These controllers could dual-monitor both inputs and outputs and could be used for automation and logic-based decisions for production use.
The big upside to using these PLC’s was the durability factor of them, they were built to last. Dust, moisture, hot or cold temperatures, all of these factors would cause a relay to trip and fault, but this wasn’t the case with PLC’s.
PLC’s became the standard for use in production machines and operations throughout the industrial industry in the early 1970’s which led to shorter downtimes, increased production, and less money spent on fixing equipment. PLC’s do break down as with virtually all other equipment being used constantly, but they break down a fraction of the time compared with their earlier-generation relay switch systems.
In today’s production facilities, there is a maintenance and care plan enacted at the plant that guarantees that at least one person on every shift has been trained on PLC maintenance and can fix problems should they arise. Standard maintenance includes backing up PLC programs every six months or so, sometimes more often dependent on the importance of that particular machine. Redundancy copies of PLC software are usually made to on-site and off-site locations in case of a PLC software failure.
Proper maintaining of the software is necessary to keep the PLC in good working order. New PLC software should always be considered in the future to stay updated. It’s always a good idea to stick with one brand of PLC within your plant so that updates and fixes won’t pose too much of a problem.
To get your workforce and staff up to proper speed on PLC, NTT Training Inc. has what you need. NTT Training Inc. offers an all-inclusive 3-day seminar on all of the ins and outs of PLCs and how it affects your workforce. This seminar will give your workforce the definitive statement on PLC machines and how to get the absolute best out of them. Contact NTT Training today to set your seminar up or to ask a representative any questions you may have.
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