What is PLC? PLC or Programmable Logic Controller is a computer system that helps control every automated machinery on our planet today. PLC is used in many industries to control the machines in their facility or troubleshoot it when there is a problem with the system. PLC is like the brain of every machine. It controls the moving parts and decides how to react to every situation. Without PLC, the machine can’t perform its usual task. Technicians and engineers who are well trained in performing PLC tasks are like a brain doctor who maintains the brain. Just like any doctor talking to their patients to know what’s wrong with them, technicians have to “ask” the PLC different questions to know what’s wrong with them and to know how to proceed with the troubleshooting. Maintenance technicians and engineers use a laptop to know the status of PLC and diagnose any abnormalities. They use the PLC to reduce troubleshooting downtime. If the definition above is too complex for you, here is another definition of what PLC is. It is a program that controls any machines that use it. It controls everything the machine does base on the program the user uses. In older times, machines use relays in electrical panels to run the machine. PLC runs in a ladder logic language which has a lot of similarities with wiring schematic maintenance technicians uses before PLC was introduced. There are different inputs PLC uses bar codes, switches, machine operator data, and sensors. Outputs are air solenoids, indicator lights, motor parts, etc.
To know more about PLC troubleshooting and maintenance, visit http://www.plcmanual.com/troubleshooting
How many bottom lines depend on the PLC system?
Most companies heavily rely on PLC for their operation. In fact, according to a 2001 survey, at least 3-10 facilities of a company rely on PLC. And these are not just small companies. Some of the participants are fortune 500 companies with at least a hundred employees. Most of these fortune 500 companies have at least 10 known PLC in their facilities. It means that in a world where automation is a must, PLC has become one of the most important components of every facility. Most people know about PLC when the machine is already down or undergoes maintenance. PLC repair can cost you a fortune if not maintained well. Most companies don’t have proper RSLogix training or education on how to keep the PLC safe. Proper training is a must if you want to run a smooth PLC operation in your company. At first glance, older version machinery seems like they run on old relays that are present in every electrical panel.
Do you need to have every detail of the PLC-like model types, programs, and parts availability?
The first thing you do when you are doing a system maintenance is to audit your PLC. Look at every electrical panel and note every PLC model, the brand and every important information you will find. Step two is to analyze every data you got and assess the risks. After analyzing all the risks, make a concrete plan based on your assessment. Remember to include all the factors that can affect the machine. Always ask the following questions when making your action plan
- Do you have all the parts of the PLC?
- Does the original manufacturer of the equipment still in the business?
- Did we make a copy of the PLC program?
- Are the descriptions for our program copy available?
- Do we have the needed software to read the PLC program?
- Are our technicians and maintenance engineers trained on the said PLC brand?
These are just some of the important questions to be answered to properly maintain PLC and avoid unnecessary risk.
Are the maintenance crew well trained?
Spending a couple of thousand bucks for proper RSLogix training of your maintenance crew is a money worth spending since you will spend at least $10,000 if you don’t have a properly trained maintenance technician and your PLC breaks. I can give you one reason why you always need a trained technician looking after the PLC every shift: You don’t want to put all the well-trained technicians on one shift. You have to make sure every shift is covered by a trained maintenance guy. Like they say, “You don’t put all your valuables in one place.” The big question is, “How do we make sure that the training we conduct is enough? Your objectives for your training should:
- Focus on how to work safely and reliably around PLC under stress. And I’m not talking about book related stuff. What I mean is your crew should have experience hands-on regarding on PLC.
- The training should focus on the brand and model of the PLC your company is using. There’s no point in training your people with the wrong PLC system. These criteria are 2 of the most important points you should address when conducting a training. Other criteria will follow once you have enough experience handling PLC. Make sure your people are well equipped when it comes to software and hardware before training starts. After the initial training, you should follow-up with your technicians after 6 months to make sure the training is effective.
Visit http://electrical-engineering-portal.com/resources/plc-programming-training to know more about PLC training.
Does your technician work within the company policy regarding PLC?
Everyone knows that if certain procedures and company policy are not implemented, people will use untested and unreliable procedures. Here are some tips on how to properly implement company policies and procedures regarding PLC.
- PLC policies should be written inside the existing company policies and procedures.
- Personnel that is working with PLC system should undergo proper training.
- PLC programs should be updated every 6 months.
- If the program is changed, it should be documented in the hard copy, software copy and CMMS programs.
- Make sure to use, reliable media storage when storing PLC program. Use either one of these: USB, Compact Disk or External Hard drive.
- Multiple copies should be made for the site manager, maintenance manager, and the off-site manager.
- All normal procedures should be changed to offline and then download it to the PLC. Online programming is an unnecessary risk.