Author: Nancy Museo
Monday, December 12, 2022

What Mistakes can Destroy Your Programmable Logic Controller



If you set your mind to invest in a programmable logic controller, it's wise to know the mistakes you can make. Here is an informative article to help you learn about the mistakes you can make in the programmable logic controller.

There are a couple of mistakes you can make in a programmable logic controller; module failure of the input/output system, electrical noise interference, power problems, conflict with the outer environment, corrupted memory, and loss of network communication. If this feels like the article you've been looking for, I will encourage you to keep reading. 

Get to learn more about the ways to maintain programmable logic controller. 

What Mistakes can Destroy Your Programmable Logic Controller

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are the power behind most automated industrial processes today. But these units don't work without careful monitoring, and there are many ways to break them or cause them to fail. As companies rely more and more on PLCs to automate their production lines, it's important to remember the mistakes that can destroy your PLC so you can prevent them from occurring in your company or organization.

What Mistakes can Destroy Your Programmable Logic Controller


Here are the mistakes that can destroy your Programmable logic controllers 


1. Module Failure of the Input/Output (I/O) System

Module failure of the I/O system, specifically the terminals which use signals that represent high or low voltages, could cause a controller to execute unintended commands. It typically occurs when the incoming electrical signal received at the terminal is too weak to activate the processor in state. Turning the input voltage may suffice to bring about the intended input—an I/O module to process these inputs effectively.

2. Electrical Noise Interference

Programmable logic controllers work as long as there is no interference from electromagnetic radiation. When looking for interference, it's best to look near sources of the waves: power lines, computer monitors, microwaves, and fluorescent lights. The good news is that PLCs have unique filters and receivers that provide immunity to common problems like that!

3. Power Problems

A power problem is one of the most common ways an automated process can fail. If the correct power frequency and voltage levels are not available to the PLC, it will shut down and cease working. Different standards apply depending on the application and industry, but a consistent electricity supply is critical to its proper operation. It is also possible for the wrong power to flow into your system, causing damage. If you're experiencing these problems with your design, contact us for more information about how we can help you solve them.

4. Heat

Controlling the temperature of your equipment is an integral part of many machine functions. Most programmable logic controllers offer one-point and two-point control options to help regulate the temperature levels inside your enclosure. Most machines will have at least one sensor which measures temperature levels and transmits this information to the controller so that it can make adjustments as needed.

What Mistakes can Destroy Your Programmable Logic Controller

5. Conflict With the Outer Environment

The outer environment is full of equipment and features designed to influence the inner workings of the control. If there is a conflict between these two, it could destroy the programmable logic controller. The PLC cannot know how the world outside will react to inputs and process them accordingly. If the sensor is exposed to extreme temperatures, it may not be able to provide an accurate reading on output values.

6. Loss of Network Communication

If the PLC loses its ability to communicate with its environment, it is useless. It can happen if the connection disconnects or the wireless network fails. The network must have 24/7 connectivity and transmission between terminals to maintain a PLC's functionality.

7. Corrupted Memory

A corrupted memory is perhaps the most destructive to the PLC because it often results in a rapid loss of power or firmware and, ultimately, execution. Not only will the data stored in memory be lost, but this type of corruption will prevent any new program instructions from being loaded onto the chip. If power is not restored within 5 minutes, the PLC will cease functioning and likely need to be replaced.

What are the ways to maintain a programmable logic controller

What Mistakes can Destroy Your Programmable Logic Controller

Your programmable logic controller is one of the essential parts of your machinery. It's responsible for controlling and optimizing the processes occurring within that machinery. You can rest assured knowing that any task performed by your machinery will be handled with precision, care, and diligence by your PLC. Here are the ways to maintain your PLC to ensure your machinery's operations are always running smoothly and efficiently.

1. Check environmental factors/operating conditions.

One of the most important aspects of maintaining a PLC is ensuring that no adverse environmental factors (e.g., high temperatures, dirt, etc.) interfere with your PLC's operating conditions. If you notice any of these environmental factors, create a regular schedule for assessing your PLC's environment and remove any obstacles that interfere with its operations or lifespan.

2. Clear dust, debris, and other things from your units

The first step in the maintenance process is the simplest: ensure that there are no obstructions clogging your units. Sometimes dust, debris, or buildup on top of a team can be enough to stop them from functioning—clear trash, dust, leaves, and waste by wiping them down with a dry cloth. Use a damp cloth or compressed air if needed.

3. All enclosure filters should be cleaned or replaced

Filter replacement is vital for the proper operation of your PLC. The type of filter depends on the process and environment. However, filters should be replaced at least once a year or more often if necessary. Filters should be cleaned before they are replaced. They should also be cleaned after they are installed.

What Mistakes can Destroy Your Programmable Logic Controller

4. Make sure all your connections are tight, especially the I/O modules 

The connections can loosen over time, leading to a failure in communication between modules. When you are making connections, ensure that they are a tight fit. This way, your connections will last longer and work better.

5. Inspect I/O devices for proper adjustments

The I/O devices are the connection between the PLC and the outside world. The links can get lost, so ensure that the wiring is correct and not loose. It will ensure your machine's essential functions will continue to operate as they should.

6. Ensure the LED battery indicators on the RAM module are functioning

Each module will have a power, ground, and battery indicator. To check the RAM module, examine the LEDs next to it. If the LEDs are on, then there is power being supplied. If one or more of them are not lit, then there could be a potential memory error, and we would need to replace it with a different module for testing purposes. Memory errors can be intermittent, so we want to perform further diagnostics before returning the module outright.

What are the Most Popular PLC programming languages?

It's always good to have a basic understanding of programming languages so you can choose the right one for your project, which is why we've compiled this list of the most popular programming languages in the PLC world. Take a look at the below table

Ladder Diagram

LD was initially created from relay logic which used devices such as switches and mechanical relays to control processes. 

Sequential Function Charts

This programming language is familiar to users with knowledge of flowcharts. Here, transitions are used to achieve valuable results. 

Function Block Diagram

This is also a graphical type of programming language. The FBD uses functions between inputs and outputs connected in blocks by connection lines. 

Structured Text ST is a textual-based language. This is a high-level language that applies Basic, Pascal, and C. 

Conclusion

Programmable logic controllers are critical equipment and should be taken care of. You should have a regular, up-to-date maintenance schedule and ensure you are not just focusing on the controller but looking at the entire system, including any input or output devices. Most importantly, it would help if you did not neglect your PLCs when things start to break down. Take care of them before they cause damage that can take weeks or months to undo. Contact Guru solutions for effective Programmable logic controller services. 

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