In past articles we have discussed the definitions of a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC), Programmable Automation Controller (PAC), and PC-based control and how each plays a role in today’s industrial marketplace. Today we will discuss the Productivity3000, a new control platform recently released by AutomationDirect. Some say this resembles a PLC; others say it’s a type of PAC. We categorize this product simply as a new control platform called Productivity3000.

Productivity3000 550 connectorA PLC was originally designed to replace hard-wired relays and timers in the automotive industry. And, a PLC’s programmability enabled changes to a control system which allowed it to be more flexible, and therefore more effective than its hardwired predecessors; this was one of the greatest advancements in the history of industrial automation.

With Personal Computer technology booming in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a natural progression to consider using the processing power in these units to solve more complicated applications that extended well beyond the realm of digital and analog I/O manipulation. However, the PC was not designed for use in harsh industrial applications; it did not have the flexibility of a modular I/O based system.

But, the PC raised the bar from a technical standpoint. The need was not only to solve complex applications with the speed and open architecture of a PC-based application, but to source equipment capable of withstanding the environmental pounding that PLCs have been subjected to for many years. OEMs, system integrators, and end users were sampling the processing power of the PC-based control in real-time industrial applications – and they liked it. But, they needed a hardware offering to match the PC’s performance in a flexible yet rugged package.

When AutomationDirect began researching the design of the Productivity3000, the goal was not necessarily to build a PAC. The goal was to build a controller which met the expectations and specifications of today’s automation marketplace. We evaluated specifications of our current product lines, and specifications of other supplier’s products, and determined that we could offer a better solution which could be less expensive, easier to use and more productive.

Productivity3000As the development project began to mature into a tangible product, we realized the majority of the application space where we would market this product was currently occupied by PACs. The features of our new product all pointed in the direction of a PAC. However, the Productivity3000 pricing structure is similar to our traditional PLCs. The end product is a powerful control solution with built-in data logging, unprecedented communication capabilities, integrated drive technology, and enterprise connectivity – all at a fraction of the cost when compared to similar solutions in the industry.

With Productivity3000, you get all the power needed for advanced applications. You may call it a PLC because of its modular footprint; or, you may call it a PAC because of its superior performance and capabilities. In short, Productivity3000 is a control solution which provides an economical solution to your application needs. And, if not this product, we have thousands of other products you may want to consider.

By Jeff Payne,
Product Manager, PLC/IO and PC Control

Originally Published: Sept. 1, 2009