The PLC is very much alive and well, with a long life ahead. But, this industrial workhorse has morphed in numerous ways to retain its appeal to both industrial and commercial markets. Automation suppliers continue to reengineer the PLC to lower price points and formulate product lines for niche markets, while throughout all this the market has demonstrated its elasticity. Consequently, today’s automation suppliers are defining a class of systems, Programmable Automation Controllers, which employ open industry standards, extended domain functionality, and offer technical competence.
The term PLC, for Programmable Logic Controller, has been established for many decades. Users continue to associate attributes such as instant-on, low mean time between failure and mean time to repair with these automation platforms. Specifically, the PLC’s reputation for reliability, performance, repeatability, and predictability continues to drive demand for simple, rugged systems capable of withstanding harsh industrial environments. But the PLC has evolved by incorporating open standard interfaces, multi-domain functionality, distributed modular architectures, and modern software capabilities integrated as turnkey automation solutions.
The label “PLC” simply understates the current automation systems capability. As a new functional generation of capabilities pervades the market the more apt notion of Programmable Automation Controllers (PAC) will displace its predecessor. PACs augment the function and role of the traditional PLC by defining new capabilities for the next generation PLC. This PAC concept will play a major role in plant and factory automation in the future.
Below are some recommendations:
-Programmable Automation Controllers or PACs will play a major role in plant and factory automation due to factors such as adherence to open industry standards and multi-control discipline programmability and functionality.
-All parts of a PAC system must be designed to maximize software and hardware integration, especially by offering end users one programming and engineering tool for the complete system.
-End users should let their application be their guide when deciding whether to select a PAC or a traditional PLC.