plc example shift register sorting station

PLC Example – Sorting Station (Shift Register)

Using the PLC we will sort items on a conveyor using shift register instructions. We will apply the five steps to a PLC example program development of a sorting station. The program will use shift registers to track colored parts down a conveyor and sort depending on color into one of three locations.
plc example shift register sorting station
Developing the PLC program example is a process that can be clearly defined. In our series on the five steps to PLC program development, we have done some similar practical examples.
Five Steps to PLC Program Development
– Press
Process Mixer
Shift Register (Conveyor Reject)
Paint Spraying
Delay Starting of 7 Motors
– Pick and Place

Define the task: (Step 1 – Sorting Station Shift Register)

Watch the sequence of operation video below.
Watch on YouTube: PLC Programming Example – Sorting Station Testing

plc example shift register sorting station
plc example shift register sorting station
A normally open start and normally closed stop pushbuttons are used to start and stop the process in automatic mode. Upon starting the entry, exit, and sorting station belt conveyors will turn on. This will bring parts to the vision sensor.
plc example shift register sorting station
Each part will be tracked down the conveyor belt until it is in front of the appropriate exit ramp. (Three Ramps)
plc example shift register sorting station
The sorting station diverter for the exit ramp will turn on allowing the part to slide down the exit ramp.
plc example shift register sorting station
The number of parts sorted is tracked by way of a counter that will display the number of parts that have been sorted for the exit ramp. Hitting the reset when the panel is in manual mode will allow the counters to reset to zero. (0)
To reset the tracking of the parts and clear the conveyors, hit the reset button when the machine is stopped.
If a part is stuck on the exit sensor to the ramp, this will block the sensor. A delay of 5 seconds takes place and then the machine will stop. The flashing reset button will indicate that a jam has occurred at the exit.

Define the Inputs and Outputs: (Step 2 – Sorting Station Shift Register)

Item at Exit – Sensor – On/Off – Normally Closed
Start Pushbutton – Normally Open – On/Off
Reset Pushbutton – Normally Open – On/Off
Stop Pushbutton – Normally Closed – On/Off
Emergency Stop – Normally Closed – On/Off
Auto / Manual – Switch – On/Off
Entry Conveyor – Contactor – On/Off
Stop Blade – (Not used)
Exit Conveyor – Contactor – On/Off
Sorter 1 Turn – On/Off
Sorter 1 Belt – Contactor – On/Off
Sorter 2 Turn – On/Off
Sorter 2 Belt – Contactor – On/Off
Sorter 3 Turn – On/Off
Sorter 3 Belt – Contactor – On/Off
Start Light – On/Off
Reset Light – On/Off
Stop Light – On/Off
Vision Sensor (Colour Sensor) – Register – 16 bits
Counter 1 exit ramp – Register – 16 bits
Counter 2 exit ramp – Register – 16 bits
Counter 3 exit ramp – Register – 16 bits

Develop a logical sequence of operation: (Step 3 – Sorting Station Shift Register)

A flow chart or sequence table is used to fully understand the process the needs to be controlled. It must also answer questions like the following:

What happens when electrical power and/or pneumatic air is lost? What happens when the input / output devices fail? Do we need redundancy?

This step is where you can save yourself a lot of work by understanding everything about the operation. It will help prevent you from continuously re-writing the PLC program logic. Knowing all of these answers upfront is vital in the development of the PLC program.
The main part of the program will be to track the parts down the conveyor belt. Using a shift register on each of the exit ramps is a good way to do this logic.
Here is a review of how shift registers work:
In our example, we do not have an input to represent movement on the conveyor belt. This would be like a proximity sensor on a sprocket or an encoder on the conveyor shaft. We will accomplish this by using a system timed bit. (100ms interval) When the conveyor belt is running we will trigger our shift register every 100ms. This will act as the clock input to our instruction. Each 100ms pulse of the bit will indicate a movement of the conveyor belt.

Develop the PLC program: (Step 4 – Sorting Station Shift Register)

Writing the code for the PLC example will be the next step in our program development. A quick review can be seen on our post: Buiding A PLC Program That You Can Be Proud Of
(This series takes you through using discrete inputs and outputs to control traffic lights and cylinders. As we progress we introduce additional methods to solve logic. We look at sequencers in a new way and learn how to write programs to allow users to teach the new sequence.)
The first thing in our program is to control the start and stop functions. This is done through a latching circuit.
Start / Stop Control Circuit
plc example shift register sorting station
Start the conveyors in the system. This is done with the start light bit.
plc example shift register sorting station
The three sorting station ramps are tracked by their own shift register. The colour sensor on the input (MHR1) will determine the colour of the product. Based upon the colour the product will be sorted into one of three ramps.
The clock input to all three shift registers will be the start bit along with a 0.10-second system clock bit (100 msec). Normally this would be off of a conveyor pulse bit that would represent a distance traveled by the conveyor. Example: Gear turning triggers a proximity sensor.
Reset on the part tracking (shift registers) is done with the reset button when the system has stopped.
plc example shift register sorting station
Sorter 1 tracking
If the colour sensor picks up a 0 or 4 this is a base unit. It will then put this as an input to the shift register. The output will trigger the sorter 1 turn mechanism.
plc example shift register sorting station
Sorter 2 tracking
If the colour sensor input is greater or equal to 2 and less than or equal to 3 this is a blue part unit. It will then put this as an input to the shift register. The output will trigger the sorter 2 turn mechanism.
plc example shift register sorting station
Sorter 3 tracking
If the colour sensor input is, greater or equal to 5 then this is a green part unit. It will then put this as an input to the shift register. The output will trigger the sorter 3 turn mechanism.
The actual output from each of the shift registers will have to be experimented with during the testing of the program. In our case Sort1 bit V0:8, Sort2 bit V21:15 and Sort3 bit V33:7 was used.
plc example shift register sorting station
Upon the leading edge of the sorter turners, the output for each of the colour sorting ramps will increment by one (+1).
Reset Light
plc example shift register sorting station
Will flash at 1 second intervals if product is jammed on the output conveyor
Light will be on when reset pressed.

plc example shift register sorting station
Reset the counters back to zero. Move 0 into the associated word. MHR2 to MHR4
Product Jam
plc example shift register sorting station
Product Jam at exit Timer. If the sensor is off for more than 5 seconds this will allow the timer to finish and produce an error.
This is the end of our program.

Test the program: (Step 5 – Sorting Station Shift Register)

We will be using Factory IO to test the program. This communicates Modbus TCP Client (Master) to our BRX Series PLC (Modbus TCP Server (Slave)).
plc example shift register sorting station
We will now add the inputs and outputs to our program for communication to our scene in Factory IO. The output coils from Factory IO will set the actual input addresses in our PLC example program. See the following post on Understanding the PLC Program Scan. This will demonstrate how we can set the actual PLC inputs.
plc example shift register sorting station
The inputs from Factory IO will be set by the actual outputs from our PLC example program.
plc example shift register sorting station
plc example shift register sorting station
The first step in testing out the program is to ensure that the inputs and outputs of the PLC are wired correctly. We would usually turn each input on manually and see the corresponding input of the PLC turn on. The same applies to the output devices. We would turn on each of the outputs to determine if they have been wired correctly.
If everything is working then we will start running our program in automatic mode.
Fine adjustments may be required for the output bits of the sequencers. In our example, we are using the following bits within each of the sequencer instructions. (Shift Registers)
plc example shift register sorting station
Test the program for things that can go wrong. Unplug a sensor or remove a box after the sensor has seen it. The PLC example program should be able to react.

Watch the video below to see an explanation and test of the program using Factory IO.

You can download the program and Factory IO scene here.

Watch on YouTube : PLC Programming Example – Sorting Station
If you have any questions or need further information please contact me.
Thank you,

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37 thoughts on “PLC Example – Sorting Station (Shift Register)”

    1. Factory IO is a good program for teaching the basics of PLC programming. Other parts of the program will allow you to make the sensors fault and outputs faults. This way troubleshooting skills can be taught.

      1. hie Garry. lm currently doing a project for parcel sorting system using bar code to scan the destination of the do l go about it as in the ladder program.really appreciate all the help


        1. Hi Chizman,
          The first step is to establish communication from the bar-code scanner to the PLC. This is usually done by using a receive instruction in the PLC. Do you have a specific bar-code scanner and PLC models that you are using? This will determine the method of getting the information.
          Here is a link on how to do this using the Do-More:

          Here is a link using the Click PLC:

          The next part to be done is the tracking once the information is in the PLC from the bar-code scanner. I would use compare instructions to determine the destination and then create a shift register. The shift register could be bits like the video above or words.
          I hope this helps you out. Let me know how you make out.

          1. hie Garry

            can you give me a sample of a bar code reader using plc..its difficult to program it.thank you

          2. Hi Chizman,
            See the comment below for examples on connecting a barcode scanner to the Click PLC and the Do-More PLC.
            What is the make and model of the barcode scanner that you are using?
            What is the make and model of the PLC that you are using?
            Making the cable connection can be difficult for the serial connection. What do you have so far?

          3. hi Garry

            i wanted to ask for your PLC code you used for the sorting station example.
            thank you

        2. Chizman,

          No offense but how did you get hired doing this project? It seems like you have minimal , or no PLC programming experience. PLC’s programming is something serious that if it isn’t done by a professional could result in damage to equipment, serious injury to people, or worst case death. If you are serious in the questions you’re asking, you should consider not doing this project.


      2. hie garrys
        can you help me out with a PLC code for the sorting station but instead of 1 conveyor belt ,they will be 2 or 3 conveyor belts running on the same speed


        1. Hi Chizman,
          You can add many different shift registers as you would like to represent multiple conveyors. If they are all running the same speed, then the clock pulse would be the same for all of them. Outputs would trigger on each line depending on the location that you want something to happen.
          I hope this helps you out.

  1. hie Garry
    l want to use the datalogic DS2100-1110 bar code scanner.

    the PLC l want to use the siemens S7-313C CPU

    can these work for my project which l want to explain below

    l want to design an automatic parcel sorting machine in which the destination of the parcel is extracted by the bar code and processed by the PLC.once the parcel have reached its sorting area it is deflected to the destination loading bay..the concept is almost the same as the one in your video only that l want to use bar code reader to determine where its being deflected.

    1. Hi Chizman,
      I have not worked with this barcode scanner but looking at the specifications it should work. It will communicate to the PLC via RS232.
      The S7-313C does not have a serial port (RS232) so a communication module with a serial interface (RS232) (6ES7 138-4DF01-0AB0) must be used.
      The first thing to do is to establish communication from the barcode scanner to the PLC. Here are some threads that may help you out.
      Once your communication link is established, I would then concentrate on the tracking part of the program.
      Hope this helps you out.

  2. Hi Chizman,

    This is a nice article. You mentioned the outputs from the shift register were determined by experiment. Is it determined by the location of the three sorters?

    1. Hi Chizman,
      The output would be based on the timing of when you want it to activate. If the clock pulse to activate the shift register is based on an encoder then you would determine the number of pulses required to trigger the output.
      Hope this helps you out.

  3. hie garry

    can you help me by writing a PLC program of an additional conveyor belt next to the existing one so that the sorting will be done by 2 stations running with the same speed,side by side
    using 1 PLC code

    1. Hi Chizman,
      In order to have 2 stations running side by side then use two shift registers with the same clock pulse. The input to the shift registers may or may not be the same depending on the application.
      I hope this helps you out.

  4. thanks for your use full examples ,is it possible to test your example without hardware plc in pc and run factory i/o scene .

    please tell how ,thanks in advance

    1. Hi Javad,
      You can connect Factory I/O to the Do-More Designer software. This is a fully functional free download.
      You can also use AdvancedHMI on the same PC.
      Here is a post that will cover the installation of the Do-More Designer simulator and AdvancedHMI on your PC.
      I hope this will help you out.

  5. hie garry

    im using simatic manager s7 pro for my project but the problem is the simulation on/off button is not working.can you give me some ideas on how to toggle it to the on mode


  6. hie garry

    can you give me the steps l have to take to import the plc program you sent me into my simatic s7 and also the scene to my factory io

    1. Hi Chizman,
      The Factory IO scene can be downloaded at the following location:
      Since this program was written for the Do-More PLC you will have to re-write the program for the S7.
      The shift register for the S7 can be found on this thread.
      I hope this helps you out.

  7. hello garry
    l downloaded the do more PLC software

    my question is what is the name of the PLC will l be it the Siemens or Allan Bradley or the mitsubishi

    1. Hi Chizman,
      The Do-More Designer Software will program the Do-More Series of PLCs. This includes the H2, T1H, and BRX.,_h2,_t1h)_plcs_(micro_modular_-a-_stackable)
      The simulator will allow you to run your PLC code without having one of the above physical PLCs.
      Here is a series on the Do-More Software:

  8. Hello

    I get it the do more series plc,click series plc and the directlogic series plc are other types of plc manufacturers just like the siemens and allan Bradley

    coming back to the sorter system of the code you sent and factory io scene,how do l link the factory io and do more software so that l can run the code.

  9. hie Garry

    can l have your email address so that l can communicate with you more efficiently.l do have some image attachments l will be sharing with you in need of your help.

    thank you

  10. hello garry

    can l have your email address.l would very much like to continue asking for your help including sending you image attachments of the problems l am facing

    thank you

      1. Hie garry

        Which OFFLINE PLC type and sub-type do l use for the simulation of the sorting station.the error lm getting l sent it as an attachment to your email you gave me


        1. Hi Ham Chizman,

          The Do-More Simulator will use the same IP address as the Host Computer. This cannot be changed unless the computer changes. See the following post from the Forums:

          The PLC that you will choose is the DM-SIM. This is the Do-More Simulator.
          If you were to call up the program that was made for the sorting station, all of the setting should be fine except for the IP address.

  11. Hello,

    Thank you for sharing this content. Do you have the program written in stucture text by any chances? This would help a lot.

  12. Hello,

    Thank you for sharing this content. Do you have the program written in stucture text by any chances? This would help a lot.

    Thanks in advance.
    Kind regards

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