Category Archives: analog

How to Troubleshoot a PLC

Your control system does not work. Where do you start? Lets walk through a series of questions in order to determine where the problem lies.

Is this a new installation or previous installation that was running fine? Determine if system has been running well in the past and has currently stop working correctly. This is the indication that the problem relies inside the system.

Is there anything that has happened outside of the system? Has there been a lightening strike, blown drives on other systems, etc.  This can point to the original cause of the malfunction.

What is the system doing now and what should it be doing? Gather all of the information you can from every resource you can.

  • Supervisors  – machine, location, time of error, other happenings in the plant, etc
  • Operators – What is it currently doing? What should it be doing? What do you think is wrong?
Operators of the equipment are your key resource in finding, correcting and ensuring the error does not happen again. They know the equipment from an operational point of view which can assist you greatly in troubleshooting.

PLC fatal and non-fatal errors:
If the machine is still running partially then this is an indication of a non-fatal error. Cannot run at all is usually a fatal error.

Take a look at the PLC indicator lights on the CPU. Refer to the operation manual for the PLC for troubleshooting specific lights on the CPU. The following are general tips:

If no lights are on then the possible cause is a power supply. This is usually the most common of errors on a PLC system. Mean time before failure (MTBF) is rated on the lowest rating of components which is usually the power supply.

If the run light is on and an error light flashing this usually indicates internal errors such as batteries, scan time, etc. It is usually not the reason for the lack of operation.

If the run light is on and no other errors are seen on the CPU we can put the PLC program on the bottom of the list of items that could be the cause.

Check the input cards of the PLC. You should see the individual sensors lighting up the inputs. If not then check the power supply to the input card / cards.

Ask the operator what is happening and what is suppose to happen. Try to follow the sequence of events in the PLC to determine either and input or output device not working.
Some items to watch:

If this is a new PLC program that you are doing start with a logic flow diagram. This will determine the procedure to start programming.
Every program can be done in several ways. The best method is the most documented one.

Documentation is the mark of a good program.

Some trouble with new programs can be racing conditions. This is usually a case of not understanding how the PLC scans logic. In general the PLC will scan from left to right, top to bottom. The output bits / words are available to the inputs of the next rung of logic. (Modicon PLC’s will scan differently.) Actual outputs and inputs are not read until the end of the scan of the PLC. Racing conditions happen when the output is set on multiple rungs, but will not get actually set until the end of the scan. Think of it as the last action will always win. So if this happens move the logic to the end of the program and see if it works. Then go back and see where the output was also set.  Cross reference guides are ideal for this purpose. (Refer to your programming software on how to get cross references.)

We have discussed just a few troubleshooting techniques. Hopefully now you know how to start looking for the errors on your  system. Let me know how you make  out.

Watch on YouTube : How to Troubleshoot a PLC

Do you know of additional tips or methods to share?

If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

The Secret Of Getting Rid Of Noise On Your Analog Signal

Allot of times in industrial environments we get noise on the analog signal input to PLC’s or other controllers. The noise can be generated by motors, bad wiring, etc.

Placing a 1- 100 uF capacitor on the input signal and ground (common to the cabinet)  will reduce the noise that the input is receiving.

If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.

Here’s a Quick Way to Understand PLC Inputs and Outputs

The term I/O means Input/Output. I/O can come in two different types; Discrete or Analog Most people starting out leaning about programmable logic controls (PLC) are taught all about discrete input and outputs. Data is received from devices such as push-buttons, limit-switches etc. and devices are turned on such as motor contactor, lights, etc. Discrete input and output bits are either on or off. (1 or 0) The following program will show a motor control circuit stop start. Motor off:

Motor on:

Analog inputs Common input variables for analog are temperature, flow, pressure, etc. They are converted to an electrical signal into a PLC analog input. Standard electrical signals are 0 – 20 mA, 4 – 20 mA, 0 – 10 volts DC, -10 – 10 volts DC. Note: It is recommended that a 4 – 20 mA signal is best. If voltage is required, a resistor can be added to get a voltage input. Analog outputs Common output variables for analog are speed, flow, pressure, etc. They are converted from a word in the PLC to the output of the analog. The range of signal is then outputted to the device to control the position, rate, etc. Standard electrical signals to the device are 4 – 20 mA, 0 – 10 volts DC, -10 – 10 volts DC. Both Analog Inputs and Outputs use words to determine the signal going to or from the device. Example: 4 – 20 mA current Input – 8 bit resolution 4 mA = 000000002 = 0016 20 mA = 11111111= FF16 Example: 4 – 20 mA current Output – 8 bit resolution 0016 = 000000002 = 4 mA FF16 = 111111112 =20 mA For a review of numbering systems, follow the link below: What everyone should know about PLC numbering systems

 

Let me know if you have any questions or need further information.
Thank you,
Garry



If you’re like most of my readers, you’re committed to learning about technology. Numbering systems used in PLC’s are not difficult to learn and understand. We will walk through the numbering systems used in PLCs. This includes Bits, Decimal, Hexadecimal, ASCII and Floating Point.

To get this free article, subscribe to my free email newsletter.


Use the information to inform other people how numbering systems work. Sign up now.

The ‘Robust Data Logging for Free’ eBook is also available as a free download. The link is included when you subscribe to ACC Automation.