Tech Briefs Magazine - June 2022 - 24

Electrical/Electronics
Powerful Micro-PLCs Enhance Equipment and
Testing Systems
Modern micro-PLCs can do much more than basic control when they include the
connectivity and protocols needed to access field data and bridge it to higher-level
onsite and cloud-based systems.
AutomationDirect, Cumming, GA
F
or many types of machinery and test
equipment, there is a great need to
perform basic automatic control functions,
or even just sensor monitoring.
Developing hardwired automation is
cumbersome, and many digital automation
platforms are complex and expensive.
Designers need right-sized solutions
for these applications.
Today, even the smallest and least expensive
programmable logic controllers
(PLCs) have advanced to a point where it
is practical and economical to perform
not only basic control and monitoring
tasks, but also industrial internet of things
(IIoT) implementations and cloud connectivity.
Micro-PLCs are not just for relay
replacement anymore, they are often also
the best and most affordable industrial-grade
control and IIoT solution.
For any type of equipment automation,
users are primarily concerned with functional,
safe, and reliable operation. This
can often be achieved with electrical hardwired
pushbuttons, relays, and indicators.
A far more capable option is to use
digital electronic control platforms,
opening the door for users to perform
more precise control and extract much
more data. Modern equipment is likely
to incorporate increasing quantities of
sensors, some wired, others wireless.
" Intelligent " field devices are revolutionizing
the amount of available data
- if the digital platform can access it via
serial or Ethernet connections. Most users
would like the ability to connect with
all available data sources so they can
monitor, optimize, and proactively maintain
their systems.
Smaller automation projects with traditionally
wired devices - typically around
100 input/output points or less - usually
call for a basic instruction set, which can
be handled by standard micro-PLCs. However,
many applications require more
functionality, which can only be delivered
by newer modern micro-PLCs (Figure 1).
24
IIoT/Cloud
platforms
RAW SYSTEM
DATA
PLC
DATABASE
PRODUCTION
RUN TIME
TOTAL JAR
COUNT
SUPPLY
CONSUMPTION
RATE
REFINED SYSTEM DATA
Figure 1: The AutomationDirect CLICK PLUS micro-PLCs are provided in an industrial-grade stackable
micro-modular format, with simple and free software so users can quickly create automation and
cloud-connected IIoT solutions for machines and test equipment. (Image: AutomationDirect)
Common applications may also need
capabilities like high-speed counting,
PID loop control, and mathematical
computation - and all these functions
and more are now supported by many
micro-PLCs. Performing the IIoT role
requires a micro-PLC to natively support
operations technology (OT) protocols
like ASCII, Modbus RTU/TCP,
and EtherNet/IP, as well as IT protocols
like MQTT, DHCP, SNTP, and
DNS. These features enable the micro-PLC
to act as a bridge between
field devices and onsite or cloud-based
IIoT platforms.
The micro-PLC should be modular for
flexible and scalable input/output capabilities,
and it should also include micro-USB
and wired/wireless Ethernet
connectivity options. Wireless is particularly
attractive because it significantly reduces
sensor installation costs. Of
course, any network-connected device
must include cybersecurity measures,
such as password management, encryption,
port management, and more.
www.techbriefs.com
Figure 2: Built for industrial installations, the
AutomationDirect CLICK series of micro-PLCs
can connect with all types of OT field devices,
while the newer CLICK PLUS version includes
IT-friendly features like Wi-Fi and MQTT.
(Image: AutomationDirect)
Tech Briefs, June 2022
TB Electrical Electronics 0622_1.indd 24
Cov
ToC
5/19/22 3:46 PM
http://www.techbriefs.com http://info.hotims.com/82322-850

Tech Briefs Magazine - June 2022

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Tech Briefs Magazine - June 2022 - Intro
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