September 2nd, 2016 by
Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) are the foundation upon which industrial automation was built. Automation process is one of the most important things in industries like robotics and semiconductors. Besides increasing production, automation processes have become more efficient and easier to track. PLCs have however, improved greatly over the past several years. With the need to integrate industrial machines more tightly with various business processes and technology, it has become more crucial to have PLCs that are highly versatile.
However, industries are facing both cost and space constraints than any other time in history. This means that they had to come up with ways of cutting down space usage on the factory floor by using cost-effective technologies that still maintain production at optimum levels. Initially, proprietary hardware like FPGAs and DSPs were used on real-time control systems. However, it was realized that general purpose operating systems combined with general purpose processors did not have the strength to meet the needs of real-time PLCs.
Things have changed so much since Intel is now offering multi-core processors that can easily be found on COTS motherboards. With these standard commercial off the shelf hardware, it means that developers can now realize more cost savings than when using custom DSP boards. Programmable embedded controllers are now being realized on integrated circuits to create single-chip PLCs.
By embedding a PLC during the design of the OEM control system, developers can now realize a higher level of flexibility. One of the advantages brought about by real-time plc programming is that it allows for custom control solutions that can give an exact fit to system requirements. Furthermore, industries can benefit from lower system and design costs. When it comes to embedded PLCs, Windows Embedded is a perfect example of a streamlined version of the Windows operating system, which enables high speed processing. Such PLCs can meet highly demanding environmental requirements besides offering a scalable platform that supports future product features.
Users that need more real-time performance than what is available in Windows can also use third party real time extensions. These, when combined with windows, can meet the requirements of the most demanding real-time needs.