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Plc Introduction Essay

3478 words - 14 pages



Topics: • PLC History • Ladder Logic and Relays • PLC Programming • PLC Operation • An Example Objectives: • Know general PLC issues • To be able to write simple ladder logic programs • Understand the operation of a PLC

Control engineering has evolved over time. In the past humans were the main method for controlling a system. More recently electricity has been used for control and early electrical control was based on relays. These relays allow power to be switched on and off without a mechanical switch. It is common to use relays to make simple logical control decisions. The development of low cost computer has brought the most ...view middle of the document...

When a voltage is


applied to the input coil, the resulting current creates a magnetic field. The magnetic field pulls a metal switch (or reed) towards it and the contacts touch, closing the switch. The contact that closes when the coil is energized is called normally open. The normally closed contacts touch when the input coil is not energized. Relays are normally drawn in schematic form using a circle to represent the input coil. The output contacts are shown with two parallel lines. Normally open contacts are shown as two lines, and will be open (non-conducting) when the input is not energized. Normally closed contacts are shown with two lines with a diagonal line through them. When the input coil is not energized the normally closed contacts will be closed (conducting).

input coil


normally closed

normally open


Figure 2

Simple Relay Layouts and Schematics

Relays are used to let one power source close a switch for another (often high current) power source, while keeping them isolated. An example of a relay in a simple control application is shown in Figure 3. In this system the first relay on the left is used as normally closed, and will allow current to flow until a voltage is applied to the input A. The second relay is normally open and will not allow current to flow until a voltage is applied to the input B. If current is flowing through the first two relays


then current will flow through the coil in the third relay, and close the switch for output C. This circuit would normally be drawn in the ladder logic form. This can be read logically as C will be on if A is off and B is on.

115VAC wall plug

relay logic

input A (normally closed)

input B (normally open)

output C (normally open)



C ladder logic

Figure 3

A Simple Relay Controller

The example in Figure 3 does not show the entire control system, but only the logic. When we consider a PLC there are inputs, outputs, and the logic. Figure 4 shows a more complete representation of the PLC. Here there are two inputs from push buttons. We can imagine the inputs as activating 24V DC relay coils in the PLC. This in turn drives an output relay that switches 115V AC, that will turn on a light. Note, in actual PLCs inputs are never relays, but outputs are often relays. The ladder logic in the PLC is actually a computer program that the user can enter and change. Notice that both of the input push buttons are normally open, but the ladder logic inside the PLC has one normally open contact, and one normally closed contact. Do not think that the ladder logic in the PLC needs to match the inputs or outputs. Many beginners will get caught trying to make the ladder logic match the input types.


push buttons

power supply +24V com.


ladder logic





115Vac AC power neut. Figure 4 A PLC Illustrated With Relays


Many relays also have multiple outputs (throws) and...

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