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What is a programmable logic controller (PLC)?

The automation of many industrial processes, such as the machinery on an assembly line, is managed by a device known as a programmable logic controller (PLC). A PLC is a small computer which contains programming code – normally written on a computer before being downloaded onto the PLC. Should the process being controlled change, it is simply a case of re-programming the PLC with new commands.

The first PLCs were seen in the 1960s, with GM Hydra-Matic’s shift from hard-wired relay systems to electronic control revolutionising their automatic transmission production. Before the introduction of PLCs, automated systems such as car manufacturing production lines were reliant on relays, timers, drum sequencers and closed-loop controllers. This meant the procedure for changing the system (e.g. when a new model of car was to be built) was not only expensive but also time consuming, which had a significant impact on productivity. PLCs also require less wiring and components than hard-wired systems, so they’re the ideal solution on sites with limited space.

As with any computer, there is always a chance a PLC will crash, leading to the process being halted while the device is reset. However, because of their size compared to, say, desktop computers, PLCs are much less likely to fail, especially if they’re installed by an experienced provider. Here at Gibbons Engineering Group we have a wealth of panel-building expertise at our disposal, meaning you can have every confidence when we carry out your PLC installation. We use the most sophisticated, up-to-date software as part of our bespoke service and all our products and processes are quality controlled in accordance with ISO 9001.

For more information on our panel building products and services, call 01621 868138 or email info@gibbonsgroup.co.uk and we’ll get right back to you.

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