Modern PLCs and PACs deliver the improved processing, connectivity, and security needed by end users.
Damon Purvis, PLC Product Manager at AutomationDirect, was interviewed by Mike Bacidore, the Editor-in-Chief of Control Design, for an editorial article that ran in their April 2022 issue titled PLCs Do More with Data To Spare. This Q&A covers some recent and future aspects of PLC development.
Regarding the most significant machine controls technology improvements in the past five years, Damon says that increased connectivity—with corresponding security—have been key. This is especially true due to the wide adoption of Ethernet and cloud connectivity using popular methods/protocols like HTML5, MQTT, FTP, HTTP, and REST API. Other improvements include support by many PLCs for multiple programming languages, and the inclusion of IT-friendly features like Web services.
Remote monitoring capabilities benefits all types of end users, systems integrators, and OEMs. The right remote capabilities reduce downtime, while quickly engaging the right people to troubleshoot systems. OEMs can easily remain involved after deployment, supporting their customers by optimizing operation, applying machine learning and artificial intelligence, and performing predictive maintenance.
Damon points out that operational technology (OT) machine controls are becoming more IT-friendly. Automated machinery will still require specialized skills to set up the discrete, process, and motion control aspects, but connectivity and remote access are becoming easier to implement and maintain for both OT and IT personnel.
The AutomationDirect Do-more BRX Series stackable micro brick PLCs continue to add functionality fusing traditional machine control with IT enabling technology. OT/IT convergence enabled by BRX PLCs lets end users and OEMs control machines with the same reliability they have always expected, while adding easy IIoT access to their data.