Category Archives: Sensors

Proximity (Capacitive, Inductive), Photo electric (Thru beam, Retro Reflective, Diffuse), Ultrasonic, etc. Sensors can be either discrete (On/Off) or Analog outputs.

ACC Automation 2017 Review

ACC Automation


We would like to take a few minutes and reflect on the past, current and future of ACC Automation. 2017 has been our best year yet thanks to you. Your questions, comments and suggestions have helped us to build the site that you see today.
Thank you. Continue Reading!

BRX PLC High Speed IO

The BRX series of programmable logic controllers has built in high speed inputs and outputs. Every CPU will have either 6 or 10 high speed inputs (HSI) available depending on the model. These inputs can be used for input frequencies from 0 to 250Khz. 250Khz represents 250000 input counts per second that can be coming from devices connected to your PLC like an encoder. Every BRX CPU unit also has 2, 4 or 8 high speed outputs (HSO) available depending on the model. The outputs can send a frequency of pulses out up to 250Khz. Due to the speed of the IO, these functions available on the BRX PLC will operate asynchronous with the PLC scan time.
We will be looking at sending an output of pulses at different frequencies from our BRX PLC and inputting these back into the high speed inputs of the PLC. So our output will be wired back into our input. We will then display the frequency of the input pulses and the count. As a system integrator, this ability to send and receive high speed inputs and outputs can prove very useful to you in the field when commissioning your automation system.
Let’s get started with the BRX PLC High Speed IO. Continue Reading!

Implementing the Solo Process Temperature Controller

The SOLO Temperature Controller is a single loop dual output process temperature controller that can control both heating and cooling simultaneously. It is available in 1/32, 1/16, 1/8 and 1/4 DIN panel sizes and is UL, CUL and CE approved. The name of temperature controller is deceiving. This unit will also accept voltage and current into them, which is great for process control.

Recently I was asked: How you can change the pressure value from PSI to Bar?

They were bringing into the controller a voltage signal. This can be scaled using the tP-H (High level signal) and tP-L (Low level signal). The units on the display scaled for you. The default is -999 to 999. See section 11-2 of the following information guide that comes with the controller. Continue Reading!

Create an Analog Voltage Input Tester for a PLC

We will create a simple and inexpensive analog voltage tester for a PLC using a potentiometer and a 9VDC battery. The potentiometer will be 5K ohms. This should be enough impedance for most analog inputs of the programmable logic controller. (PLC) Voltage impedance for analog voltage inputs are in the mega ohm range where current input is typically 250 ohms. Our tester will be for analog voltage inputs (0-10 VDC). Check your input specifications before wiring anything to your PLC. I have used this tester for other voltage inputs along with a meter to ensure that the voltage levels do not get out of range for the input signal.
Analog inputs to the PLC are continuous and can come in a variety of signals. These signals can come from temperature, flow rate, pressure, distance, etc. Continue Reading!

The 7 Essential Parts of a PLC System

When I was in school PLC’s were just in their infancy. We were taught that the PLC consisted of the central processing unit (CPU), analog and digital inputs and outputs. Everything was programmed with dedicated handheld devices and/or software devices on specialized hardware. We now have modern PLC systems that are capable of so much more. Let’s look at how we can now break up these modern PLC system into the seven essential components.

CPU
Inputs and Outputs (I/O)
Analog I/O
Specialty I/O
Programming Tools
HMI
Networking Continue Reading…

PLC Programming Example – Paint Spraying

We will look at a PLC basic tutorial of a paint spraying station. Following the 5 steps to program development this PLC programming example should fully explain the procedure for developing the PLC program logic. Ladder will be our PLC programming language.

We will be using the Do-more Designer software which comes with a simulator. This fully functional program is offered free of charge at automation direct.

Define the task:

What has to happen?
Paint Station 01

Paint spraying system where boxes are fed by gravity through a feeder magazine one at a time onto a moving conveyor belt. Upon the start signal, boxes are pushed towards the conveyor by valve 1. This is a cylinder which extends and retracts which operates switches S1 and S2 respectfully. A spraying nozzle paints each box as it passes under the paint spray controlled by valve 2. A sensor (S3) counts each box being sprayed. When 6 boxes have been painted the valve 2 shuts off (paint spray) and valve 1 (cylinder) stops moving boxes onto the conveyor. Three seconds later the conveyor stops moving and the hopper with its load moves forward (valve 3) where it is emptied. Ten seconds later the hopper returns to the original position. The cycle is then complete and waits for a start signal again.

Define the Inputs and Outputs:

Inputs:
Start Switch – On/Off (Normally Open) – NO
Stop Switch – On/Off (Normally Closed) – NC
S1 – Valve 1 (cylinder retract) On/Off – NO
S2 – Valve 1 (cylinder extend) On/Off – NO
S3 – Box Detected- On/Off – NO
Outputs:
Motor – On/Off (Conveyor Run)
Valve 1- Cylinder to feed boxes – On/Off
Valve 2- Paint Spray – On/Off
Valve 3- Cylinder to move hopper – On/Off

Develop a logical sequence of operation:

Fully understanding the logic before starting to program can save you time and frustration.

Sequence Table: The following is a sequence table for our paint spraying application.

Sequence Table
1 – Input / Ouput ON
0 – Input / Output OFF
x – Input / Output Does not Matter
When power goes off and comes on the sequence will continue. This means that we must use memory retentive areas of the PLC. The stop pushbutton will stop the sequence. The start will resume until the end.

Develop the PLC program:

The best way to see the development of the programmable logic controller program is to follow the sequence table along with the following program. You will see the direct correlation between the two and get a good understanding of the process.

This is the main process start and stop bit. V0:0 is used because it is memory retentive.
Paint Stn Program 1

Control of the Motor (Conveyor) and the paint spray is done with the V0:0 contact in front of the actual PLC output. The conveyor and paint spray will stop when the timer 0 is done. This is the delay after the last box is detected to allow the box to be painted and loaded onto the hopper.
Paint Stn Program 2

Control of the box movement onto the conveyor. As long as we have the process start and the hopper count is not complete this will allow the cylinder to put boxes on the conveyor.
Paint Stn Program 3

Count number of boxes in the hopper via S3. The counter is memory retentive.
Paint Stn Program 4

Timer to stop the conveyor and spray after the last box is detected for the hopper. This will allow time for the box to be sprayed and loaded into the hopper.
Paint Stn Program 5

Hopper movement to load and unload the boxes.
Paint Stn Program 6

The hopper unload timer is to unload the boxes and will then trigger the reset conveyor timer, box counter and the process start bit (V0:0).
Paint Stn Program 7

Test the program:

Paint Spraying
Test the program with a simulator or actual machine. Make modifications as necessary. Remember to follow up after a time frame to see if any problems arise that need to be addressed with the program.

Watch on YouTube : PLC Programming Example – Paint Spraying
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.

PLC Programming Example – Shift Register (Conveyor Reject)

Allot of times when programming a PLC you need to track what has previously happened. Shift registers allow you to do just that. We will look at a PLC basic tutorial of a conveyor belt and reject station. Following the 5 steps to program development this PLC programming example should fully explain the function of shift registers. Ladder will be our PLC programming language.

We will be using the Do-more Designer software which comes with a simulator. This fully functional program is offered free of charge at automation direct.

Define the task:

What has to happen?
Conveyor Reject 0

A start pushbutton (NO) is used to start the conveyor and a stop pushbutton (NC) is used to stop. Sensor B detects product on the conveyor belt and sensor A will detect if it is too large and needs to be rejected. The product is tracked along the conveyor belt and when under the reject station the Reject Blow Off will expel the bad product. Product is randomly placed on the conveyor belt, so an incremental encoder is used to track the conveyor movement. The reset pushbutton (NO) will signal that all of the product on the conveyor has been removed between the sensors and reject blow off.

Define the Inputs and Outputs:

Inputs: Start Switch – On/Off (Normally Open) – NO Stop Switch – On/Off (Normally Closed) – NC Reset Switch – On/Off – NO Motor Encoder – On/Off – This will give a discrete signal when the conveyor is moving. It picks up the movement of the free wheel. Sensor A (Part Reject) – On/Off – NO Sensor B (Part Present) – On/Off – NO

Outputs: Motor – On/Off (Conveyor Run) Air Blow Off – On/Off (Reject)
Inputs_Outputs

Develop a logical sequence of operation:

Fully understanding the logic before starting to program can save you time and frustration.

Sequence Table: The following is a sequence table for our conveyor reject application.
Sequence Table

It is a simple sequence table, but clarifies the following: When power goes off and comes on the sequence will continue. This means that the shift sequencer must be memory retentive. Sensor A and B must be on to get tracked with a shift register.

Shift Registers: The Shift Register (SR) instruction shifts data through a predefined number of BIT locations. These BIT locations can be a range of BITs, a single Word or DWord, or a range of Words or DWords. The instruction has three inputs. Data, Clock and Reset. The data input will load the beginning bit with a ‘1’ if it is on or ‘0’ if it is not. Clock input is used to shift the data through the shift register. In our example, we will be using the encoder on the conveyor to track the reject container. So each pulse of the clock represents a distance on the conveyor. The last input is the reset. It will place ‘0’ in all of the bits within the shift register.
Shift Register

Develop the PLC program:

Start and stop of the conveyor motor.
Program Conveyor Reject 1

Shift register to track the rejected parts. This will move the bits with each pulse of the encoder. Note that the ‘V’ memory is used because it is memory retentive.
Program Conveyor Reject 2

This will look at the bit in front of the reject station. We can measure and count off the length (conveyor) and then find out what the bit location will be at the reject location.Program Conveyor Reject 3

Test the program:

Test the program with a simulator or actual machine. Make modifications as necessary. Remember to follow up after a time frame to see if any problems arise that need to be addressed with the program.

Conveyor Reject

Notes: Sometimes you can use multiple shift registers in your program. This can be helpful if you want to actually track the container as well as the rejects. You could also use bit shift right (BSR) and bit shift left instructions (BSR) to do the same thing as we did with the shift register instruction. In the Do-more PLC it is rotate left (ROTL) and rotate right (ROTR) instructions. Always check your instruction set of the controller that you are working with before starting to program.

Watch on YouTube : PLC Programming Example – Shift Register (Conveyor Reject)

Additional information on shift registers can be seen at the following URL:
http://accautomation.ca/plc-programming-example-sorting-station-shift-register/
This PLC programming example will look at sorting coloured tags into three different exits. The 3D simulation will use three different shift registers to trigger when to direct the correct colour tag.
Watch the sequence of operation video below.
Watch on YouTube : PLC Programming Example – Sorting Station Testing

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.

How PLC Outputs Work

This post is a further follow up from my original ‘Here’s a Quick Way to Understand PLC Inputs and Outputs’. There are basically two different kinds of PLC outputs, Discrete and analog. Discrete outputs are either ‘ON’ or ‘OFF’; 1 or 0. You can think of them as a single light bulb. Analog outputs have a range to them. They are outputs that usually will control proportional valves, drive speeds, etc. They usually have one of the following signals that are outputted from the PLC: 4-20mA, 0-10VDC, 1-5VDC.

Discrete Outputs
PLC Outputs

The above diagram has three outputs. A coil, light and motor. The Ladder outputs Y0, Y1 and Y2 control the outputs respectfully. You will notice that when the Ladder output turns on, the corresponding output card bit LED turns on. This then will energise the output hardwired to the device.

The outputs are turned on or off at the end of every PLC Scan. The PLC logic is solved left to right, top to bottom in most PLCs. Physical outputs are not set / reset until an I/O refresh is performed at the end of every scan. This means that if I have a scan of 1msec, then the maximum time it will take to turn on/off the output is 1msec.

PLCs will sometimes have the ability to update the I/O in the middle of a scan. Please refer to your PLC manufacturers manual for this instruction. This can be used for updating the I/O quickly or controlling stepper drives for motors by giving them a pulse train output from the discrete PLC output. A pulse train is just a quick series of on/off states of the output.

Analog Outputs
PLC Analog Output to Motor Speed

An analog output converts a digital value to a voltage or current level that can be used to control (vary) physical outputs. In the example above we are controlling the speed of the motor. Words in the PLC will control the analog value.
Example:
4 – 20 mA current Output – 8 bit resolution
4 mA = 00000000 base 2 = 00 base 16
20 mA = 11111111 base 2 = FF base 16
For a review of numbering systems, follow the link below:
What Everybody Ought to Know About PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) Numbering Systems

In the industrial environment noise from variable frequency drives, improper grounding, etc. can interfere with your analog input. The following post will show a quick method to reduce this noise.
The Secret Of Getting Rid Of Noise On Your Analog Signal

Previous Post:
How PLC Inputs Work

Watch on YouTube : How PLC Outputs Work

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.

How PLC Inputs Work

This post is a further follow up from my original ‘Here’s a Quick Way to Understand PLC Inputs and Outputs’. There are basically two different kinds of PLC inputs, Discrete and analog. Discrete inputs are either ‘ON’ or ‘OFF’; 1 or 0. You can think of them as a single switch. Analog inputs have a range to them. They are inputs that usually will sense pressure, temperature, height, weight, etc.  They usually have one of the following signals that are inputted into the PLC: 4-20mA, 0-10VDC, 1-5VDC.

Discrete Inputs
PLC Input

The above diagram has two inputs. A normally open (NO)  and a normally closed (NC). When we talk about normally open and close, think of the condition of the input if no one touches anything. A normally open contact will not turn on the input to the PLC card in its ‘normal’ state. The normally closed contact will turn on the input to the PLC card in its ‘normal’ state.

Normally Open Input
The NO contact when activated will complete a circuit and turn on the PLC input. Ladder logic will then turn on if you use a normally open (Examine On) input in your program. See above diagram.

Normally Closed Input
The NC contact when activated will break a circuit and turn off the PLC input. Ladder logic will then turn off if you use a normally open (Examine On) input in your program. See above diagram.

As you can see with the diagram above this can get tricky to determine the on/off condition of the input. PLC logic can convert any signal by using normally closed (Examine Off) inputs in the program. In the field, I usually look at the PLC input lights, and wiring diagrams to determine the current state of the input. This is before diving into the program to troubleshoot.

Here is a link to wiring up discrete 3-wire sensors in the field. Here’s a Quick Way to Wire NPN and PNP devices

Analog Inputs
BinMaster Analog Input

An analog input converts a voltage or current level into a digital value that can be stored and processed in the PLC. They use words to determine the signal coming from the device.
Example:
4 – 20 mA current Input – 8 bit resolution
4 mA = 00000000 base 2 = 00 base 16
20 mA = 11111111 base 2 = FF base 16
For a review of numbering systems, follow the link below:
What Everybody Ought to Know About PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) Numbering Systems

In the industrial environment noise from variable frequency drives, improper grounding, etc. can interfere with your analog input. The following post will show a quick method to reduce this noise.
The Secret Of Getting Rid Of Noise On Your Analog Signal

Here are some additional posts that you might find helpful.
How to make a Start / Stop / Jog circuit in a PLC
The Secret of Using Timers
The Secret of Using Counters

Watch on YouTube : How PLC Inputs Work

Watch on YouTube : Wiring (Testing) Analog PLC Input Click

Watch on YouTube : Wiring (Testing) Analog PLC Input Omron CP1H

Watch on YouTube : Wiring Contact (Discrete) PLC Inputs

Watch on YouTube : Wiring PNP Sensor to PLC

Watch on YouTube : Wiring NPN Sensor to PLC

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.

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.

footprints

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.

build-2Bgear-2Btower

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.

Do_More CPU Units

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.

PLC-2BScan

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.)

start stop 011

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.