When the topic is programmable logic controllers, the focus is often on production lines and industrial settings. In reality however, we come in contact with programmable logic controllers on almost a daily basis. The programmable logic controllers use daily unknowing my not be as powerful as the Unitronics Unistream as manufactured by companies like All Drives and Controls but the reasoning behind the models are very similar. We take a look at some basic uses of PLCs.
In most homes with central heating, there is a little box on the wall for controlling the heating. That small box is a programmable logic controller. With that device on the wall, you can set the temperature and also program your heating to come on and go off at specified intervals. With this you can make sure your home is warm in the morning and at night and the heating system is off during the day when you are out and about.
The central control centre in your home
If you live in a luxurious home, there is every chance that you have a setup that allows you to control TVs, lighting, security camera, your gate, etc. from one hub. This is a programmable logic controller at work. Some of these setups can even be controlled on an android smartphone. The programmable logic controller combines all the functions under one hub, making it easy for you to for instance, control your music, change channels and open the gate for a visitor without leaving your couch!
How do programmable logic controllers work?
Generally, a programmable logic controller is an input and output device. It takes in external instructions from you, pass it on to the linked devices and then return your desired result. In the case of your heating for instance, your input is the temperature and time while the output is the result you get, i.e. the system following your instructions to be sure your heating comes on at exactly the time you wish to. So when next you press that central heating or open the gate from your bedroom, remember that you are using programmable logic controllers.
The more conventional uses of raw form programmable logic controllers can however be seen mostly in manufacturing plants. Using the PLCs, manufacturers can be able to automate processes that would be too costly for humans to run. Imagine a company that produces millions of drinks a day. It will be very difficult to get the human resources required to can and package all those drinks every single day. A PLC will however ensure that the production can go on round the clock if need be.
This use in manufacturing is why many people see PLCs as a strictly industrial device. As we have seen here however, that is not the case.