How to Troubleshoot a PLC

Your control system does not work. Where do you start? Let’s 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 the system has been running well in the past and has currently stopped working correctly. This is the indication that the problem relies upon the system.

Is there anything that has happened outside of the system? Has there been a lightning 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 the 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 an 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 to 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.




How to Implement the Omron PLC Host Link Protocol

The hostlink communication protocol is a method developed by Omron for communication to PLC’s and other equipment. This ASCII based protocol is used over RS232 or RS422/RS485. It is a many to one implementation which means that you can communicate with up to 32 devices back to a master. (1: N) This communication on the industrial floor can control PLC’s, Temperature Controllers, Panel Meters, etc.


Our look at this protocol will include the wiring, setting of RS232 port settings, protocol format and writing a VB6 program to read information from the PLC. I will also point you links to then store this information into a database and share over an intranet/internet. Let’s get started.

Wiring of the communication ports will depend on the equipment purchased. If communicating over 15 meters, it is recommended to switch to RS422 or RS485 connection. However, I have seen RS232 runs of 50 meters without an issue. It will depend on your implementation and electrical noise in the plant.
Omron Host Link Cable Connections

The above diagram is the basic communication needed for RS232C. Note that the shield of the communication wire is connected only to one side. This ensures that any noise induced in the communication is filtered to one end.

Settings for RS232C communications are set in a number of ways. Older Omron C**K PLC was set through a series of dip switches. Current Omron SMR1/CPM1 PLC’s are set through data memory locations.
Note: Most of the time, you need to cycle the power or switch to program/run mode for the setting to be activated.
Omron Host Link Settings 1 Omron Host Link Settings 2

I generally tend to leave everything at the default settings: 9600 bps, Even parity, 7 data bits, 1 stop bit. The default host link unit number is 00. (32 max. – 00 – 31)

Protocol Format
Each piece of equipment will have a list of parameters that can be read and written using the HostLink protocol. This can be found in the programming manual of the device. Here are the areas in the CPM1/CPM1A/CPM2A/CPM2C/SRM1(-V2) from the programming manual.

HostLink Areas

Lets take a look at the command to read the DM area. All of the commands and responses will be in an ASCII format.

HostLink DM Area Read

The command format begins with a ‘@‘ sign followed by the Node / Unit number that you wish to communicate. The header code is the command in which you wish to execute. (RD) This header code will determine the next series of information. In our case, the next four digits will be the beginning word followed by the next four digits to indicate the number of words. The next part of the command is the FCS (checksum) calculation. The comparison to this at each end will ensure that the command/response is correct. FCS is an 8-bit data converted into two ASCII characters. The 8 bits are a result of an Exclusive OR performed on the data from the beginning to the end of the text in the frame. In our case this would be performed on the following:

"@00RD00000010"

The last part of the command is the terminator. This is an ‘*’ followed by the character for the carriage return. (CHR$(13))

The response format begins with a ‘@’ sign followed by the Node / Unit number that you are communicating to. The header code is next (RD) followed by the End Code. The end code is a two digit ASCII code that indicates the message response/errors when executing the action. A normal code of ’00’ indicates that everything is fine. See the operation manual for the entire list of end codes for your equipment. The next part of the response depends on the header code executed. In our case, it would contain the data requested. The last two parts of the response are the FCS and terminator just like the command format.

Omron HostLink Frame_Response

The above shows the timing of the command and responses.

Visual Basic VB6 (Example)
Now let’s look at an example of reading the first 10 words from the DM area of an Omron PLC.

HostLink VB6 Program1

The first step is the design the form. You can see that we have our ten DM area words set out to populate with values. We also have a T$ for transmitting. This will show what we are sending to the PLC. The RXD$ will show what the response will be from the PLC.

The MSComm is used to communicate through the serial ports of the computer. The following is the settings for the communication port.

HostLink VB6 Program2

Here is the VB6 code for the program:
When the form loads the Date/Time will get updated and Timer1 is enabled. This timer controls the interval in which the commands get executed. (Set to 1 second)

Private Sub Form_Load()
 Label2.Caption = Format(Date, "YYYY/MM/DD") + "    " + Format(Time, "HH:MM:SS")
 Timer1.Enabled = True
 End Sub

The following code will open the communication port, set the command format, send the command through the port, receive the response through the port and display the information. It will then close the communication port.

Private Sub Timer1_Timer()
 Timer1.Enabled = False
 MSComm1.PortOpen = True
 Label2.Caption = Format(Date, "YYYY/MM/DD") + "    " + Format(Time, "HH:MM:SS")
'Check DM AREA DM0000 to DM0009 data update
 T$ = "@00RD00000010"
 charreturn = 51
 GoSub FCS
 GoSub communicate
'Show Transmit information
 Label24.Caption = Buffer
 'Show Returned information
 Label26.Caption = rxd$
If Mid(rxd$, 6, 2) = "00" And (Len(rxd$)) >= charreturn Then
 Label4.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 8, 4)
 Label6.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 12, 4)
 Label8.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 16, 4)
 Label10.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 20, 4)
 Label12.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 24, 4)
 Label14.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 28, 4)
 Label16.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 32, 4)
 Label18.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 36, 4)
 Label20.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 40, 4)
 Label22.Caption = Mid(rxd$, 44, 4)
 End If
 Timer1.Enabled = True
 MSComm1.PortOpen = False
 Exit Sub

The following is the subroutine to communicate. Timer2 is the amount of time to wait before expecting an answer to the communication port. Once the command has been sent a maximum of two seconds is waited for a response. If no response nothing is returned. When the response is obtained, the FCS is checked and if correct the information is returned.

communicate:
 rxd$ = ""
 Buffer = T$ + FCS$ + "*" + Chr$(13)
 MSComm1.Output = Buffer
 Timer2.Enabled = True
 Do
 DoEvents
 Loop Until Timer2.Enabled = False
 If Time > #11:59:50 PM# Then
 timeout = #12:00:02 AM#
 Else
 timeout = DateAdd("s", 2, Time)
 End If
 MSComm1.InputLen = 0
 Do
 If timeout <= Time Then GoTo timeoutcom
 DoEvents
 Loop Until MSComm1.InBufferCount >= charreturn
 rxd$ = MSComm1.Input
 fcs_rxd$ = Left((Right(rxd$, 4)), 2)
 If Left(rxd$, 1) = "@" Then
 T$ = Mid(rxd$, 1, (Len(rxd$) - 4))
 ElseIf Mid(rxd$, 2, 1) = "@" Then
 T$ = Mid(rxd$, 2, (Len(rxd$) - 5))
 rxd$ = Mid(rxd$, 2, (Len(rxd$) - 1))
 End If
 GoSub FCS
 If FCS <> fcs_rxd$ Then
 rxd$ = ""
 End If
 clearbuffer$ = MSComm1.Input
 Return

This is the FCS (checksum) calculation routine.

FCS:
 L = Len(T$)
 A = 0
 For J = 1 To L
 TJ$ = Mid$(T$, J, 1)
 A = Asc(TJ$) Xor A
 Next J
 FCS$ = Hex$(A)
 If Len(FCS$) = 1 Then FCS$ = "0" + FCS$
 Return

This is the routine that will execute if the response is not received within the time period expected.

timeoutcom:
 clearbuffer$ = MSComm1.Input
 rxd$ = ""
 Return
End Sub

Timer2 was used as a delay before looking for a response after sending the command.

Private Sub Timer2_Timer()
 Timer2.Enabled = False
 End Sub

Here is the code running:

HostLink VB6 Program3

Helpful Tips/Links:
– When troubleshooting serial communications it is sometimes helpful to use HyperTerminal. This program will send and receive information in/out of the serial ports.
HostLink Command Generator
HostLink Command Format

Watch on YouTube: How to Implement the Omron PLC Host Link Protocol

If you have any questions, need further information or would like a copy of this program 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.




What Everybody Ought to Know About Speaking to Individual People

Talking to individuals is a complex thing. Everyone is unique and has something to contribute. It is up to use to find out what that is through the way we conduct ourselves. It boils down to our ability to modify our behavior to allow our audience to feel safe so true communications and be done. We will go through some of the things that I have learned over the years. Some items I am still working. Let’s get started.


Julian Treasure in this  June 2013 TED talk gives us some of the basic rules and sins to stay away from in speaking. He also lists some ideas in the toolbox that we can all learn to use. We as individuals need to change in order to speak more effectively.

Julian Treasure: How to speak so that people want to listen

Listen
Listening is a skill. I was always told ‘We have Two ears and One mouth… Listen to twice the amount we speak’. Active listening involves understanding what the other is trying to communicate. Do not interrupt the other person. Listen with an open mind. That is to think about what they are saying. Understand their point of view and opinions. Do not sympathize, empathize with the other person.

Communicate in the way in which the listener wants to communicate
There are several personality profiles that people can use to label individuals.  Assessments like Meyers -Briggs and DISC profiling are good to establish and understand your own profile. These should be used only for your reference. Communication to other people involves speaking to them in the manner that they want. This is where your own personal judgment comes into play. You can divide everyone that you communicate with into four categories.  They can be either more or less emotional than you and more or less dominant than you. We can plot this out like this: Emotion Dominance Table We communicate to the individual based upon how they are on this plot in our opinion only. If I was personally strong in dominant and less in emotional then everyone would that I would talk to would seem to me like the other 3 areas.  I would adjust the way I communicate to them so it matches the way I perceive them.
So how do we communicate:
More Dominant / Less Emotional (Dominant)
We would speak direct and decisive. They are problem solvers, risk takers, and self-starters. Keep in mind that they have a high ego. There is only one way to get from Point A to Point B: That is a straight line.

More Dominant / More Emotional (Influencing)
We would speak enthusiastically and optimistic. They are trusting, persuasive, talkative and impulsive.  Keep in mind that they want to be entertained. When asked how to get from Point A to Point B: They will ask ‘Who else is going?’, but will come up with an answer.

Less Dominant / More Emotional (Steady)
We would speak possessively and predictable. They are good listeners, team players, steady and friendly. Keep in mind that they are reliable, dependable, patient and good at reconciling conflicts. When asked how to get from Point A to Point B: They will ask what is the plan?

Less Dominant / Less Emotional (Correct)
We would speak accurate and precise. They are conscientious, careful, analytical and systematic. Keep in mind that they want to know everything about the issue before making a decision. When asked how to get from Point A to Point B: They would need more information.

Remember that people change all of the time. We need to adjust the way we speak to them based upon our current observations.

Watch on YouTube: Communicate in the way in which the listener wants to communicate

Observe the conversation on their side
We mentioned that we should empathize with the other person. This means that we put ourselves in the mind of the other person to determine the next step that they will take.  Everyone has a picture of what they are thinking. We need to ensure that we understand their picture and possibly help them paint a masterpiece with our information.

Make people feel safe. You can do this by making everyone that you communicate with feel important. Think of it as a big, blinking neon sign on everyone’s forehead saying ‘Make me feel important’. Simon Sinek explains in this March 2014 TED Talk this same message.

Simon Sinek: Why good leaders make you feel safe

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 is a Method That is Helping PLC Programmers to Program Faster

PLC programming involves both direct and indirect addressing. Direct address programming involves writing each ladder logic rung to do the operation required. We often forget about using powerful indirect addressing to solve our logic.


The below-animated picture will show a simple example of using indirect addressing. This will use the MOVE instruction and transfer a word indirectly to output word V100. V[V0] means that the value in V0 will point to the V memory to get the value to move. You can think of this as a pointer for the memory location to move.

Indirect Addressing Animation

Of course, we need to monitor V0. Our values are in sequence from V1 to V6. We need to ensure that V0 is always in the range from 1 to 6.

Let’s take a look at a program sample using the Do-more Designer Software. We will set up the sequence similar to the animation above but expand the program.
Just like above we will set up the pointer at V0 and the output at V100 memory locations. V1 to V37 will hold our output data sequence. This is outputs that we want to set on each event and/or time frame. You can see some of the registers and the corresponding values. These are set as a hexadecimal value. The following link will provide a review of the numbering systems in the PLC. (WHAT EVERYBODY OUGHT TO KNOW ABOUT PLC (PROGRAMMABLE LOGIC CONTROLLER) NUMBERING SYSTEMS)

Indirect Addressing 4 Data

This is the logic to set up the move instruction. The source is V[V0] which means the pointer is V0 in this memory area. The destination will be V100.

Indirect Addressing 1 MOV

An internal timing bit ST5($100ms) is used to increment the pointer V0. This could also be done by an event or series of events. The pointer is then compared to ensure that it is between 1 and 37.

Indirect Addressing 2 Pointer

Finally, the output word is then transferred to the physical outputs. This is done by using MAPIO instruction. Each bit can be set independently.

This example uses indirect addressing to program a sequence based upon time. We could just as easily used indirect addressing to compare inputs to a table and set the outputs accordingly. You can see how this method can greatly reduce the amount of time to develop your program. This holds especially true if the sequence needs to be changed. It would be just a matter of changing data values in the table.

The following are separate posts that use indirect addressing:

Building a PLC Program You Can Be Proud Of – Part 1
This uses the control of an intersection traffic light to demonstrate direct versus indirect addressing.

Building a PLC Program That You Can Be Proud Of – Part 2
A sample program to control valves. This uses indirect addressing for the inputs as well as the outputs.

Now You Can Have Robust Data Logging for Free – Part 1
Using indirect addressing, this sample program will log information in the PLC to be retrieved at a later time.

Indirect addressing is a powerful method of programming to simplify and program faster than you ever thought possible. You can even use indirect addressing in the PLC to scale a non-linear analog input signal. Let me know your thoughts on using indirect addressing. What can you come up with?

Watch on YouTube: Here is a Method That is Helping PLC Programmers to Program Faster

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 a 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 for.

The timing chart is mapped out on an 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, 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 add 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. A done bit goes on and the output Y0 is active. Y0 will remain on until the reset input goes on.
The only difference for the down counter is the display. You will see that the present value will count down to zero (0) before the CT1. A 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.




Looking For Production Improvements – Then Do A Gemba Walk!

I recently went for a Gemba Walk with Ann Machan,  General Manager of Pentair. Instead of doing normal daily production meetings, their walk does everything you can do in a boardroom, plus so much more.


What is a Gemba Walk?
http://www.gembawalk.com/the-gemba-walk/

We met in her office and were explained the KPI (Key Performance Indicators) for the operation of the plant.  Each of these KPI’s are posted at each department where the work happens and are on a large whiteboard.

The walk each morning starts at the shipping office with the rest of the staff. The operator in shipping discusses how their department has done in the last 24 hours in relation to the KPI. Questions are raised about the next 24 hours and possible issues. Before we leave this department Ann asks a few personal questions to the shipper. He answers and they start to laugh. It is obvious that they have a good relationship in which information can flow freely.

Splitting up the group into three different teams to cover the entire plant, the walk continues. We went to three additional departments where again we were shown the KPIs and how they related to the department. Notes were taken and questions asked about possible issues and current problems. Information was exchanged from the previous days’ problem with the solution for one that was to be implemented that afternoon.footprints

We assembled back all together in a central location in the plant. A large board with people’s names (Responsible for Department) was listed on the left side and twenty-one numbers were written on the top representing three weeks. The current week that they were on, followed by the next two weeks. This grid pattern was where they then discussed the walk and the issues raised. To the right of the board, a chart was placed. This chart contained the total number of problems/issues solved for each department and total company. A graph was also displayed showing the growing trend. Underneath this chart was the KPI charts that all showed either sustained or improved performance.

We started with the previous days’ issues under yesterdays date. A status update was given and the posted note was moved to either the completion clip at the side or put under a future date. When this was complete, a representative of each of the three groups when through their list of issues. These were then assigned and placed on the board. Problems that required additional investigation were discussed briefly and then the 5 why the process was assigned to the person who had the greatest knowledge.

This whole process took about one hour. The Gemba walk accomplished the following:

  • Everyone’s understanding of the current company situation based upon the KPIs
  • Everyone knows exactly what is expected
  • Everyone taking pride and knowing they are doing a good job
  • Everyone knowing someone is there to help

I found the whole experience of the Gemba walks fascinating. It is the only way that I see that you can have clear lines of communication to all staff. The way in which to grow as a company is to learn from our workers and in turn, we will teach them.  It was an opportunity to:

  • See the work being done
  • Experiment with ideas
  • Learn from all parties involved
  • Explain why things are this / that way
  • Watch what is being done

Take your own Gemba walk on your production floor. Let me know how it turns out.

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 Timers

Timers are used in the majority of PLC programs. There are also a wide variety of off the shelf industrial timers that you can use. The implementation of timers can be vast, however, it all starts with a TIMING CHART.


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

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

Let’s take a look at a timing chart for an On-Delay Timer. This is the basic operation for an Omron H3BR industrial timer.

Timing Chart On-Delay Basic

Power –  When dealing with PLC’s we must consider when power to the unit is removed what happens to the current time and output conditions.
Start – In this case, the start signal is momentary to start the time cycle. (t) We could modify this signal to be maintained until the output switches.
Output – The output will show when it turns on. This can also indicate the opposite, and show when it turns off.
Time – Time is shown by the relationship between the start signal and the output. Our example shows timing starts on the leading edge of the Start. This could have also been on the trailing edge.

Here is the same on-delay timing chart with some more detail. Several conditions are added to the chart.

Timing Chart On-Delay Details

These conditions prompt us to ask the following questions.
What happens when:

  • Power is removed/restored
  • Multiple start signals are received
  • Do we need a Reset signal? If so what happens during its operation
  • Do we need a display of the time? Present Value (PV) / Set Value (SV)

As you can see the timing chart is vital in determining how the sequence will be performed. This is the exact same method that I use when determining timing sequences in a PLC program.

Let’s look at an example.

Motor_Sequence

When we hit the start button, the warning light then comes on. After a fixed time the warning light goes off and the motor starts. The motor will run until the stop button is hit.

We will start by using the Start / Stop Circuit we did earlier.

Timer Program

You will notice that we have added an internal memory bit (C0) as our Start Sequence. This is a memory retentive bit, so we can use the (ST0) $FirstScan to make this circuit non-memory retentive. If the power goes off, or the PLC is put into program mode the circuit does not remember the last state. It will default to be off.
The sequence is as follows:

  • Start pressed
  • TMR starts to time (10seconds)
  • Warning output comes on
  • After TMR (10seconds)
    • Warning output goes off
    • Motor output comes on
  • Stop pressed
    • TMR is reset to 0
    • Warning light off
    • Motor is off

Every PLC has timers. 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 8 – The Secret of Timers

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.

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

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Lubrication basics

I recently went to a seminar on lubrication basics. This was presented by Mike Deckert of Flo Components Ltd.

So why talk about lubrication on an industrial automation website? Lubrication is vital in maintaining uptime on equipment. It is often thought of near the end of most automation projects, but it should be a principal component of all projects. If a piece of equipment moves, it will probably need lubrication. We often talk about MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) on equipment. MTBF will be very low if lubrication is neglected.


In a study conducted by a major component manufacturer, over 50% of failures are the result of improper lubrication.  (Pins and Bushing)

  • Lubrication Related Failures: 54%
    • Inadequate Lubrication – 34.4%
    • Contamination – 19.6%
  • Installation Errors – 17.7%
  • Overload – 6.9%
  • Storage and Handling Errors – 2.8%
  • Other 18.6 %

Bearings fail in a plant for many reasons. Manual lubrication is still the dominant method of lubrication for grease bearings. 95% of all bearings are manually lubed. With plant production increasing the scheduled service time between has lengthened. The maintenance staff has generally been reduced resulting in fewer people carrying out the lubrication requirements.

Lubrication has the following functions:

  • Reduce Friction
  • Reduce Wear
  • Helps Dampen Shock or Absorb Shock
  • Reduce Temperature
  • Minimize Corrosion
  • Seal out Contaminants

Lubrication interval depends on the following:

  • Metal to metal contact area of bearing
  • Environment (Application)
  • Machine Speed
  • Operating Temperature
  • Type of Grease

Not all grease is the same. Grease is a solid or semi-solid formed when a thickening agent is dispersed in the oil base. Additives give grease their final special properties. The National Lubrication Grading Index  (NLGI) will grade the grease from 000 to 6, but this is not the whole story. Always look at the manufactures specification. Base oil viscosity can be completely different but still have the same NLGI.

Lub1 Single Block Metering Valve

Why are automatic lubrication systems better?

  • Grease evenly distributed
    • The best time to grease is when the object is in motion. This spreads the grease evenly.
  • Will not over lubricate
    • Grease is delivered by measured injection. This prevents seals from blowing out.
  • The correct amount of grease is applied
    • This will ensure the maximum life of the equipment.
  • Environmentally safe

Lubrication is a vital component of automation. MTBF can be increased if we plan on ensuring that our moving parts are well maintained.

Flo Components Ltd. is an excellent company to help you understand and maintain your systems. They have a library full of information on their website.

www.flocomponents.com/Library.htm

I encourage you to check this out and make lubrication part of your automation projects. 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 Wire NPN and PNP devices

Here’s a Quick Way to Wire NPN and PNP devices

I get asked often on how to wire NPN and PNP devices to the programmable logic controller. This can be confusing at first when looking at the wiring diagrams. I have managed to destroy a few sensors in the process….. so let’s get started and I will share my experiences.


E2A_7069B_7l E2A_7002A_7l
NPN and PNP refer to the transistor in the output device.
NPN – Negative Positive Negative Switching. Sometimes referred to as ‘Sinking’ the load.  People have told me that when the NPN sensor blows it has a tendency to blow in an open state. (No Signal)
PNP – Positive Negative Positive Switching. Sometimes referred to as ‘Sourcing’ the load. People have told me that when the PNP sensor blows it has a tendency to blow in a closed state. (Signal On)

When the sensor blows, (malfunctions) it usually will also take out the power supply. (Fuse) It generally does not matter if you use NPN or PNP sensors provided they are all connected to the PLC using isolated commons.

You cannot mix PNP and NPN sensors on the same common point for inputs to the PLC. If you do mix the sensors, then the different common points on the PLC must be isolated from each other. This means that the commons are not connected internally to each other. Not ensuring this takes place will provide a short across the power supply and blow your sensors and supply. In general, machines tend to use all NPN or all PNP only.

Colour coding of the wires vary. Do not always rely on the colour code of the wires for connection. Refer to the wire diagrams in the documentation.

The following is a wiring diagram of an open collector PNP sensor. You will notice that the load appears between the 0V (Blue)  and Switching wire (Black). When connecting to the PLC, the PLC input acts as the load. The 0V (Blue) will be attached to the common input and the Switching wire (Black) will be attached to the input number.PNP1

The following is a wiring diagram of an open collector NPN sensor. You will notice that the load appears between the +V (Brown)  and Switching wire (Black). When connecting to the PLC, the PLC input acts as the load. The +V (Brown) will be attached to the common input and the Switching wire (Black) will be attached to the input number.NPN1

As you can see a direct short will be created if NPN and PNP sensors are wired into the PLC on the same common. The following shows an example of wiring of the 3 wire sensors into a PLC with isolated commons.

NPN_PNP_PLC

Watch on YouTube : Wiring NPN Sensor to PLC

Watch on YouTube : Wiring PNP Sensor to PLC

Watch on YouTube : Wiring Contact (Discrete) PLC Inputs

Wiring Interposing Relays
Watch on YouTube
: Wiring NPN and PNP Sensors into the PLC with an Interposing Relay
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 make a Start / Stop / Jog circuit in a PLC

Looking at a stop-start jog circuit in the PLC will help us in understanding the differences in hard wiring the circuit and programming.

Let’s start with the basic stop stop circuit.
Here is what it looks like hard wired. (Physical switches wired to outputs devices, such as motor contactor and relays.)
Latching Relay Circuit
When the start pushbutton (NO) is pressed the power is passed through the stop pushbutton (NC) to the control relay (CR). The CR contact closes and ‘seals in’  the start pushbutton. The start pushbutton can now be released because the CR contacts allow the power to pass through to the CR.


NO – Normally Open – This refers to the state of the input device if nothing acts upon it. 
NC – Normally Closed – This refers to the state of the input device if nothing acts upon it.

Let’s take a look at the PLC program for the above wiring diagram.
start stop 001
The first thing that you will notice is that the input for Stop is NO contact and not NC. This is because the actual signal wired in the input is NC and we do not want to inverse this signal. You can see that the stop input is currently on in the program.
If we hit the start pushbutton then the circuit is complete and the output CR turns on.

start stop 002Letting go of the start pushbutton, the output remains on because of the CR input seals in the start pushbutton.
start stop 003
Pressing the stop pushbutton will break the circuit and turn off CR.
start stop 004
Letting go of the stop pushbutton will return us back to the original state shown above.

Adding a jog input to the hard wiring diagram will look something like this:
start stop Jog
You can see that the diagram will work the exact same as the circuit above with the start and stop pushbuttons. The jog when pushed will break the sealing contact, and then make a bypass of the start pushbutton. This will keep the M coil on as long as the jog button is pressed. Letting go of the jog will stop the bypass of the start pushbutton which will stop M coil. When the jog returns to the original state M input will already be off so it will not keep M coil on.
The action on the jog is referred to as a Break before Make device. The jog pushbutton will break the circuit before making another connection.

Sometimes in programming a PLC it can be beneficial to think of the inputs as Make before Break. Inputs are made before the previous ones are broken. The programmable controller will scan the program from left to right, top to bottom. The outputs from the rung above are available to the rungs below. Here is a previous article on PLC scanning.
Lets take a look at PLC program with a jog that will not work.
start stop 010
Even though this looks like it would work… Remember that the contacts in the PLC are making before breaking. You can jog the unit and it will turn on but as soon as you release your finger off of the pushbutton the not jog input will seal the CR in. The output will not be able to turn off.
start stop 011

We must consider the delay from on to off when looking at the PLC program for this circuit.
Here is a circuit that will work:
start stop 020

Notice that we create a delay from on to off by turning on an intermediate bit in the program.

Another way to do start-stop circuits in the PLC is to use the instructions Set (SET)  and Reset (RST).
The set will have all of the conditions to turn on a bit in memory and the reset will have all of the conditions to turn off a bit in memory. These instructions are used to make the program easier to view and troubleshoot.
Here is the same logic above using the set and reset instructions.
start stop 021

Notice that X10 Jog2 is in parallel with the Start. We use a trailing edge one shot in parallel with the Stop. This sets our delay so the output will turn off.

Watch on YouTube: Learn PLC Programming – Free 4

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.




Practical Tips and Techniques