Tag Archives: plc programming ladder logic

How you can learn PLC Programming without spending a dime!

I have been writing PLC programs for over 20 years. I often get asked what is the best way to lean PLC programming. Programming in the way I was taught in college was with the Motorola 6809. (Yes, I know that I am dating myself) This was microprocessor programming, but it was the best way to sometimes explain the methods behind PLC programming. Manufacturers of PLCs had allot of proprietary software that were not even related in their appearance and methods of programming. Today we have a few standards that have changed the look and feel of the programming software packages so each manufacturer is similar. The following is the best recommendation that I have for beginners to start to learn PLC programming today.

start stop 003

The first place to start in order to learn PLC programming is the free publication by Kevin Collins. This PDF will teach you PLC programming without just telling you what a PLC is and how it functions. He also includes some test questions along the way in order for you to retain and understand the important points that he is making.

PLC Programming for Industrial Automation
by Kevin Collins
(Note: This book is now for sale on Amazon.)
https://www.amazon.com/Programming-Industrial-Automation-Kevin-Collins/dp/1846855985
Topics covered include:

  • PLC Basics
  • Ladder Programming
  • Conditional Logic
  • Ladder Diagrams
  • Normally closed contacts
  • Outputs and latches
  • Internal relays
  • Timers
  • The Pulse Generator
  • Counters
  • Sequential Programming Introduction
  • Evolution of the Sequential Function Chart
  • Programming using the Sequential Function Chart
  • Entering the SFC program into the PLC
  • Modifying an SFC Program
  • Selective Branching
  • Parallel Branching

GreyToBinaryCode

Simulator

After learning the basics from the above manual, practice. Create programs yourself and test what you have learned. You can accomplish this by using simulators. Allot of the programming software will have simulators. The simulator will mimic the PLC hardware so you can test your programs before installing in the field. Traditionally I have not been a fan of simulators, but recently Automation Direct has introduced a simulator with their Do-More PLC. It is the Do-More Designer Software. This software simulator includes the entire instruction set (Not Just Bit Logic) as well as communication protocols. It can be downloaded and installed for free from the above link.

Indirect Addressing 2 Pointer

The next step I recommend is then to advance into some of the advanced instructions. An understanding of the numbering systems in the PLC will be a benefit. Math, PID, register manipulation and conversion instructions are just a few of the advanced programming you can learn. All of these and more instruction information can be obtained from reviewing the documentation from the PLC manual that you are programming. Once again all of these instructions are included in the Do-More Designer Software.

Indirect Addressing Animation

Program structure is the next topic. Allot of programmers would stop here and can do well with developing software, however there is much more that you can lean.  Sequencers give programmers the methods to change logic on the fly and allow troubleshooting the system easier. This method of programming can benefit you greatly and reduce the development time of your logic.

Omron HostLink Frame_Responseadu_pdu

The last step that I recommend learning is the sharing of information. I am meaning the information that you program through an HMI and/or SCADA package. This refers to understanding of the ways in which information can be gathered from the PLC and displayed in different ways. Here are a couple of previous articles that have been written on this subject:

How to Implement the Omron PLC Host Link Protocol 

Robust PLC Data Logger

iis107 display

As you can see, there is allot of information available to you to begin and lean PLC programming without spending a dime!  Remember that PLCs are similar to computers, (Moore’s Law) they increase in size and ability. Systems are expanding and changing everyday. Happy programming.

Do you know of additional tips or methods to share?

Watch on YouTube : How you can learn PLC Programming without spending a dime!

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.

The Secret of Using Counters

funny_counter

Counters  are used in the majority of PLC programs. This is especially true if part of your SCADA system. Counters like the animated picture above count things. In this situation we are counting the number of turns the little guy makes. The counter is displaying the total number. This is considered a totalizing counter. If an output turned on to do something then it would be a preset (target number entered for the count) counter. There are also a wide variety of off the shelf industrial counters that you can use. The implementation of counters can be vast, however it all starts with a TIMING CHART. This is the same as the timing charts we discussed in ‘The Secret of Timers’ post.

A timing chart is the secret behind understanding of the counter that you need in your application. Making a timing chart before writing the program will ensure that all of the information will be accounted.

The timing chart is mapped out on a x and y plain. The ‘y’ plain has the state of the input on/off (1 or 0). The ‘x’ plain will show time.

The following shows a timing chart for a counter:
timing chart counterAs you can see in this timing chart, you have an input, output and display.

Inputs:
Inputs are used usually sensors that are wired to the counter (PLC) to indicate the items that we need to count. They can be switches, photoelectric sensors, proximity sensors, encoders, etc. (Wiring of NPN / PNP devices) A counter will generally have only one input. In the case of an encoder input it is still only one input, however this is wired usually as a A, B and Z phase. Z is always the reset. A and B indicate the pulses and are leading or trailing each other by 90 degrees depending on direction. Allot of counters will also allow you to as a direction input signal. However this is all still only one input.
Output ModesInput Modes

Outputs:
Outputs from counters are generally discrete. This means that they are on or off, similar to the inputs. Outputs will trigger when the count value matches the set value. The duration that the output is on depends on the reset signal, to start the count again. (DC Solenoids protection) Allot of the counters today will allow you to have multiple outputs. These multifunction counters can have several preset outputs that trigger when the counter set value has been reached. Batch outputs are also available on some of the industrial counters. A batch output counts the number of times that the preset has been reached. This output will be turned on when the number entered for the batch has been reached.

Set Value – SV:
This is usually on the display and shows the preset value. It is the target number of counts.

Present Value – PV:
This is usually on the display and shows the current or accumulated value.

Roller Measurment

The PLC programming is usually not that much different then the industrial counter. Allot of the manufactures will have an up counter, down counter and/or an up/down counter. Just as the name implies the display is either counting up or down. You have to refer to the instruction manual of the manufacturer you are programming for the way in which the counter will be programmed.

Do-More Up and Down Counter

In the above example Do-More PLC program we have an up and a down counter. X0 is the input and X1 is the reset on both of these counters. (CT0, CT1)
The preset value is stored in memory location D0. This value is set to the number 3.
When the present value (accumulated) reaches the set value (preset) then the CT0.Done bit goes on and the output Y0 is active. Y0 will remain on until the reset input goes on.
The only difference for down counter is the display. You will see that the present value will count down to zero (0) before the CT1.Done bit is turned on.
These counters are memory retentive. So in order to make the counter non-memory retentive, use the first scan bit of the PLC to trigger the reset of the counter. (ST0 – $FirstScan)

Every PLC has counters. They all have different types depending on what you are trying to achieve. It will all start with your Timing Chart.

Watch on YouTube : Learn PLC Programming – Free 9 – The Secret of Counters

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.

Building a PLC Program That You Can Be Proud Of – Part 1

What is the best way to program a PLC? 
My answer is simple. The best way is one in which someone can look at your program and understand it. I cannot stress enough the need for good documentation of your program. The best programs are ones that I can return to after several years and understand what it is doing within a few minutes. Programs should read like a book. This will aid in troubleshooting, modifying or teaching.

How do you approach a PLC program?
You must know everything about the logic or process before starting your program. Making a flow chart is one good method to learning the logic and process. The flow chart will bring out questions like the following:
What happens after a power outage? (In each condition of the outputs)
What happens if a sensor is not made? How long do you wait?
What are the critical items to monitor? (Ex. Air Pressure, Weight, Length, etc)
What happens…
Once you have written your program and are in the troubleshooting stage you can usually go back and add to your flow chart. Usually there is always something that needs to be added, changed or modified based upon the actual functioning of the program.
Consider each project a complete leaning opportunity.

Once you know what you want to do with the PLC and have a good understanding of the logic flow, then it is time to start coding. Remember that there is no write or wrong method to program the PLC, either the program will work or it will not work.

Let’s look at an example. We will start with something that we all know how it works.
Traffic Lights

We will look at three programming examples for the lights. Two different approaches to programming will be used, but the program function is the same. The last example will modify the logic for a car being sensed.

Logic:
First Example:
Traffic Light Program
Sample program for traffic light intersection with lights facing North /South and West /East.
Green is on for 5 seconds
Yellow is on for 2 seconds
Red has an overlap of 3 seconds
This program uses discrete bits and timers to accomplish this task.
The $FirstScan bit will reset the timers so if power is lost, the lights will start with Red / Red overlap before starting the sequence again.
The outputs are controlled by when the timers are on (Done) or off (Not Done)
North / South Traffic Lights
West / East Traffic Lights

You will notice that this program is fully documented and easy to understand.

This program is based upon time events. The base rate is one second. If we create a list of what the outputs look like after each second and then send them to the physical output channel we will have the second type of approach to this logic…

Logic:
Second Example:
Traffic Light Program

Sample program for traffic light intersection with lights facing North /South and West /East.
Green is on for 5 seconds
Yellow is on for 2 seconds
Red has an overlap of 3 seconds

This program uses indirect addressing to program
Lets look at the list of outputs we want based upon the following addresses: (Notice the Bit location)
Y0 – Red_Light_NS
Y1 – Yellow_Light_NS
Y2 – Green_Light NS
Y8 – Red_Light_WE
Y9 – Yellow_Light_WE
Y10 – Green_Light_WE

We have 20 steps to do in the sequence based upon 1 second increments. (V1000 to V1019)

Here is what the hex values translated to binary look like:
(Review of numbering systems from previous blog)

The $FirstScan bit will reset the pointers so if power is lost, the lights will start with Red / Red overlap before starting the sequence again.

Lets look at the program:

The $FirstScan bit will move  the number 1000 into V0. V0 will act as our pointer for the list of outputs. (V1000 to V1019)
Every 1 second ($1Second) V0 will increment by a value of 1. We will then compare the value to 1020 which indicates the end of the sequence. If the value is greater or equal to then our pointer is reset to the value of 1000. This is done by moving the number 1000 into V0.
The last step is moving our output word indirectly V0 to our output word V1. Indirectly means that the value in V0 will point to a memory location dictated by the number it contains.
ex: V0 has a value of 1000 so this means that V[V0] will move V1000 into our output word.

Set the outputs
Our physical outputs are set by casing our output word (V1) into bits. Depending on the programmable controller this can be done my moving to a word that can be addressed by bits or in our case we can cast the word into bits. [V1:#]

This program code is allot smaller than the first using discrete bits and timers. With documentation it is also easier to read.

One of the advantages of indirect addressing to program is that it makes modifications easier. Lets modify the last program…

The North will stay green until a car approaches from the West. It will remain green for 1 more second before turning yellow and completing the cycle. If the car is always there then the lights will always function.
X0 – Car West/East

Just a couple of contacts have been added to the logic on the line that increments the pointer. The setting of the outputs do not change.
If the value at V0 is equal to 1006 then stop incrementing V0. X0 (Car at intersection) comes then the pointer will increment. The cycle will complete and continue until X0 is not present. It will then stop when the pointer V0 equals 1006 again.

Watch on YouTube : Building a PLC Program That You Can Be Proud Of

In part 2 we will look at indirect addressing with a sequence that is event driven, not timed like the above.

Contact me for the above programs. I will be happy to email them to you.
If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,
Garry

You can download the software and simulator free at the following address. Also listed are helpful guides to walk you through your first program.
Do-more Designer Software

How to use video’s for Do-more Designer Software

One of the better PLC programming books is PLC Programming for Industrial Automation by Keven Collins. Here is the link to the free download.

http://staffweb.itsligo.ie/staff/kcollins/plc/plcprogramming.pdf




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.