A Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is a specialized computer with physical inputs and outputs that control industrial processes. PLC's are easy to maintain, easy to operate, and make both system updating and troubleshooting much faster.

Already have a PLC?

Which PLC is best for my system?

Choosing “the best” PLC for your system is a very individual-circumstance-specific task, and is best allotted to a control system integrator (like a Corso team member!) who understands all the technical ins and outs.  Choosing a PLC should involve answering questions like “what PLC’s are already in use?” “how fast does it have to function?” “how much work do I want this system to handle and for how long?” “how much am I willing to spend?” and “what languages do my other systems (and my employees) already use?”  Some people will need a one and done solution, while others will need something that can evolve and be expandable for future needs.  Cost, compatibility, and long term goals are all important factors when choosing a PLC, and should be carefully considered

In the end it almost completely comes down to who is programming a PLC and how it gets programmed; because of this, everyone tends to have a “favorite PLC” that they will tout above every other PLC on the market. While Corso Systems has experience using a wide variety of PLC’s and can help you work with whatever your preference is, we, too, have a couple of favorite brands: Rockwell Automation/Allen Bradley and Siemens.  We like these the best because, very simply, they work well. Both Rockwell and Siemens have good integration with Inductive Automation’s Ignition software, which increases upstart time and functionality. Most people who use Rockwell’s FactoryTalk are going to use RW/AB PLC’s while those who prefer  Siemens hardware opt for WinCC OA.

Are there other options? Yes, dozens; maybe more. Have we worked with many of them in the past? Of course. Corso is happy to work with you to choose the best PLC for your system, and know which questions to ask to make sure you’re making the best choice.

PLC Software and Languages

Remember those Programming languages we talked about? Good. In order to actually program the PLC, you need software to communicate between your computer and the PLC. So each brand of the PLC that you choose will need software to communicate with that. In the spirit of full disclosure, both the RW/AB and Siemens PLC’s require a paid software package, Corso owns these licenses and it’s part of our overall services.

In order to program a PLC, you can choose from various “languages.” These languages are spelled out in IEC 61131-3 and consist of Ladder Logic (Ladder Diagram), Function Block, Structured Text, Sequential Function Chart, and Instruction List. Of this, Ladder Logic (LL) is the original and most prominent in the field. Much has been said and debated over which of these languages is best at the end of the day, Corso will happily use which ever language works best for you.

No PLC (yet)?

Why might I want a PLC?

PLC’s replace what use to be a series of physical relays and timers with programmable processes.  When you are looking at doing multiple functions and/or are looking for something expandable for your system, a PLC can help. If you are looking for machine control, be it robotic, furnace, brewing, or anything else in-between, a PLC can help. When control needs to be precise, and is critical to your application, a PLC can help. If you need to consider space constraints, or want to significantly reduce failure points- you guessed it- a PLC can help.  Basically, if you’re looking for something relatively easy to program, use, and maintain, that is flexible and can improve overall system reliability, you might want to consider a PLC.

If you work at a facility and are not using PLC’s, stop reading and give us a call. We will tell you about the wonders of the Programmable Logic Controllers and help you decide if your system or application might benefit from a PLC.

Are there other options for my system?

Despite all the wonderful functionality PLC’s can offer automated processes, they’re not for everyone (here’s looking at you, non-automated, software-using breweries!).

If you belong in this category, Corso Systems can provide many non-PLC solutions that can benefit the performance, output, and functionality of your system.  Check out Brewtel by Corso Systems if you have a brewery, and or more into what MES might be able to offer you in terms of monitoring, scheduling, and management.

As always, feel free to reach out any time if you have questions about anything or want to know more about what Corso Systems can do for your company.

How do I get started?

What “getting started” looks like will depend on your project. If you are looking to upgrade your currently PLC’s, let us know what you’re looking at and we can help. The vast majority of our projects have PLC programming included and we are comfortable talking you through most situations.

Want to get the most out of your PLC? Learn about visualizing and controlling your PLC’s in our SCADA and HMI sections.