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PLC and CNC..

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) is a particular application usually to control a multi axis machine tool such as a milling machine or a lathe but also could be a tube bending machine punch press or similar.

The CNC controller is usually a purpose built controller using a micro computer but could be a general purpose computer or a PLC. The forerunner was NC (Numerical Control) before computers were readily available, it used solid state logic and relays, timers etc to provide the application.

Motion control - the heart of CNC

The most basic function of any CNC machine is automatic, precise, and consistent motion control. Rather than applying completely mechanical devices to cause motion as is required on most conventional machine tools, CNC machines allow motion control in a revolutionary manner.

All forms of CNC equipment have two or more directions of motion, called axes. These axes can be precisely and automatically positioned along their lengths of travel.

A CNC command executed within the control (commonly through a program) tells the drive motor to rotate a precise number of times. The rotation of the drive motor in turn rotates the ball screw.

A programmable logic controller (PLC) or programmable controller is a digital computer used for automation of electromechanical processes, such as control of machinery on factory assembly lines, amusement rides, or lighting fixtures.

PLCs are used in many industries and machines. Unlike general-purpose computers, the PLC is designed for multiple inputs and output arrangements, extended temperature ranges, immunity to electrical noise, and resistance to vibration and impact.

Programmable controllers are widely used in motion control, positioning control and torque control. Some manufacturers produce motion control units to be integrated with PLC so that G-code (involving a CNC machine) can be used to instruct machine movements

A PLC (Programable Logic Controller) is a general purpose logic controller specifically designed to allow the user to create their own application. They select appropriate I/O (Inputs Outputs) and perhaps function modules for purposes such as communications and multi axis servo control and program the PLC to perform the required functions.

Programmable logic controller

A programmable logic controller (PLC) is

a special form of microprocessor - based controller uses a programmable memory to store instructions to implement functions such as logic, sequencing, timing, counting and arithmetic in order to control machines and processes

Programmable Logic Controllers

Programmable Logic Controllers, programmable controllers, or PLCs are specialized industrial computers. The PLC,
accepts inputs from switches and sensors (measures or senses the system), evaluates these based on a program (logic), and changes the state of outputs to control a machine or process.


Programmable logic controller

The term logic is used because programming is primarily concerned with implementing logic and switching operations,
e.g. if A or B occurs switch on C, if A and B occurs switch on D.


Input devices,
e.g. sensors such as switches, and

output devices in the system being controlled,

e.g. motors, valves, etc.,

are connected to the PLC. The operator then enters a sequence of instructions, i.e. a program, into the memory of the PLC.

PLC with Input and Output


Programmable logic controller

The controller then,

monitors the inputs and outputs according to this program and carries out the control rules for which it has been programmed.


Programmable logic controller


Programmable logic controller

PLCs are similar to computers

but whereas computers are optimised for calculation and display tasks,

PLCs are optimised for control tasks and the industrial environment.


Programmable logic controller

Thus PLCs are:

rugged and designed to withstand vibrations, temperature, humidity and noise. have interfacing for inputs and outputs already inside the controller are easily programmed have an easily understood programming language which is primarily concerned with logic and switching operations.


PLC: manufacturers
Switzerland SAIA, Weidmller Europe: Siemens (60% market share) [Simatic], ABB (includes Hartmann&Braun, Elsag-Bailey, SattControl,) [IndustrialIT], Groupe Schneider [Tlmcanique], WAGO, Phoenix Contact ... GE-Fanuc, Honeywell, Invensys (Foxboro) Rockwell, (Allen-Bradley,) Emerson (Fisher Control, Rosemount, Westinghouse) Hitachi, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Yokogawa

World Market:


(1) Compact Monolithic construction Monoprocessor Fieldbus connection

Fixed casing Fixed number of I/O (most of them binary) No process computer capabilities

Kinds of PLC

Typical product: Mitsubishi MELSEC F, ABB AC31, SIMATIC S7

(2) Modular PLC Modular construction (backplane) One- or multiprocessor system Fieldbus and LAN connection
3U or 6U rack, sometimes DIN-rail Large variety of input/output boards Connection to serial bus Typical products: SIMATIC S5-115, Hitachi H-Serie, ABB AC110

(3) Soft-PLC Windows NT or CE-based automation products Direct use of CPU or co-processors

Small modular PLC

courtesy ABB courtesy Backmann

mounted on DIN-rail, 24V supply cheaper (5000) not water-proof, no ventilator extensible by a parallel bus (flat cable or rail)


Specific controller (railways)

data bus

three PLCs networked by a data bus. special construction: no fans, large temperature range, vibrations

Global players

Total sales in 2004: 7000 Mio

Source: ARC Research, 2005-10 27


Processor unit or central processing unit (CPU) is the unit containing the microprocessor,

Power supply unit is needed to convert the mains a.c. voltage to the low d.c. voltage (5 V)

Programming device is used to enter the required program into the memory of the processor



Input and output sections are where the processor receives information from external devices and sends information to external devices The inputs
switches, other sensors such as photo-electric cells, temperature sensors, or flow sensors, etc.

The outputs
motor starter coils, solenoid valves, etc. Input and output


The input/output unit provides the interface between the system and the outside world
connections to be made through input/output channels to input devices such as sensors and output devices such as motors and solenoids. programs are entered from a program panel Every input and output has a unique address


PLC Systems

There are two common types of mechanical design for PLC systems;
A single box, and the modular/rack types.


Single Box

The single box type (or, as sometimes termed, brick) is commonly used for
small programmable controllers and is supplied as an integral compact package complete with power supply, processor, memory, and input/output units.

Typically such a PLC might have

6, 8, 12 or 24 inputs and 4, 8 or 16 outputs and a memory which can store some 300 to 1000 instructions.

Modular/rack types
Systems with larger numbers of inputs and outputs are likely to be modular and designed to fit in racks. The modular type consists of separate modules for power supply, processor, etc., which are often mounted on rails within a metal cabinet.


Modular/rack types
The rack type can be used for all sizes of programmable controllers and has the various functional units packaged in individual modules which can be plugged into sockets in a base rack. The mix of modules required for a particular purpose is decided by the user and the appropriate ones then plugged into the rack.

Programming PLC

Programming PLCs Programming devices can be

a hand-held device, a desktop console or a computer.


Siemens - SIMATIC STEP 7

Fully complies with the international standard IEC 61131-3 for PLC programming languages. With STEP 7, programmers can select between different programming languages.
ladder diagram (LAD) and function block diagram (FBD), Instruction List (STL) programming language a Sequential Function Chart (SFC) called SIMATIC S7-Graph which provides an efficient way to describe sequential control systems graphically.

Siemens - SIMATIC STEP 7

Features of the whole engineering system include,

system diagnostic capabilities, process diagnostic tools, PLC simulation, remote maintenance, and plant documentation.

S7-PLCSIM is an optional package for STEP 7 that allows,

simulation of a SIMATIC S7 control platform and testing of a user program on a PC, enabling testing and refining prior to physical hardware installation.