What are PLC's?
Access Industrial Automation, Inc., Access Electric’s sister company, offers complete PLC Programming services. Programmable Logic Controllers are electronic devices that allow for enhanced monitoring and controlling of factory operations in a diverse range of industries. We specialize in a variety of PLCs including Allen-Bradley, ABB, Omron, Siemens, Fanuc, and AutomationDirect, and are knowledgeable in many settings, with a history of experience servicing the food manufacturing industry. We deliver turnkey solutions from design schematic drawings, programming, and our UL508a panel shop building capabilities, in order to set our customers up with a fully-optimized control system tailored to their company’s needs.
PLCs vs Computers
PLCs can be compared to computers – receiving, processing, and sending data. The first question may be: if PLCs are so similar to computers, why not just have a computer control these processes? The answer to this question is that PLCs are designed to be factory durable; having better reliability, longer lifespans, and greater ease of maintainability and flexibility in programming when compared with computers. Both durable and reliable, PLCs are specifically built to withstand electrical chatter, vibrations, and heat associated with the factory environment, and it is not uncommon to find PLCs in the field still running with a lifespan of 15 or even 20 years of age. The maintainability of PLCs is one of their primary benefits. With a bit of PLC Programming preplanning, failures can be addressed quickly and effectively – if a spare card or CPU is on the shelf, and the program is available to be uploaded to the device (or has already been uploaded to it), the offending unit can be swapped out, the wires landed at the correct contacts, and all is right again. In this way, production can resume with the most minimal of disruption.
Benefits of PLCs
Productivity, safety, and quality are three of the main driving factors in every industry. In order to continuously improve and make processes better, these factors must be taken into consideration. How can we produce faster? What are our most significant safety concerns, and how do we correct them? What are our defined priorities for the quality of our product? How do we record and present this data in a more meaningful and actionable way? Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) can and do affect all of these areas.
While the initial cost of PLC Programming services may seem daunting, the ROI (return on investment) can happen very quickly. Installing a PLC allows a factory to greatly improve its productivity, and this increased production throughput – combined with a reduction of maintenance and labor cost – means that the capital spent to incorporate PLC controls and automation can rapidly turn into profit.
This could be as simple as decreasing the number of wasteful steps an employee goes through to complete a job, which saves valuable time that the employee can spend being productive elsewhere. For instance, PLC controls of a conveyor system, automated packaging machines, and batching systems all generate increased income through a decrease of labor waste and more productive output. Automation is a foe to the worker shortage in today’s market as well.
Safety controllers are designed with such intricacy and thoroughness that their incorporation in manufacturing environments is rising rapidly. Laser curtains, interlocking safety switches, zone scanners, and more are all items that when incorporated into a PLC application, can keep a worker out of harm’s way and out of a worker’s compensation claim. All these items can be a stand-alone installation or incorporated into an existing machine or work center, and can aid in reducing OSHA-recordable events that can have substantial financial impacts, and ensuring workers return home in the same state as when they arrived.
PLCs help achieve higher quality in production because the data can be consistently and continuously monitored, without fear of human error. Data collection allows companies to see where things are going wrong, when and why it needs improvement, or where things are going right and what needs to be replicated elsewhere. A case study revealed at an automobile industry that before PLC automation a manual task of installing engine pistons had an error rate of 1% to 1.5%. After the task was automated, the error rate decreased to 0.00001% (Terry Brei, https://www.surecontrols.com/what-is-industrial-automation/).
Whether we’re supporting existing control systems, updating outdated technology, or installing a new automation structure – we can cover all your automation and system integration requirements, and help you to create a safer, more efficient, and more productive factory environment.
We are your access to power!