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The PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) was until recently the heart of industrial automation. However, it has come increasingly under threat both from below, with the growing use of intelligent sensors and from above, with the emergence of decentralised, PC-based solutions. The driving forces behind this spectacular development are user expectations raised by the comfort and convenience of today's PC work environments, progress in communications technology, and above all the downward pressure on automation costs exerted by world-wide recession and the resulting competition. Through concerted adaptation of serial bus technology and the network protocols and standard software already well established in office automation to the sphere of industrial automation, new low-cost automation systems are emerging that offer ease of use until now only available from big, expensive DCS systems based on process computers. The new dimension of communications now added to industrial automation ensures not only a continuous flow of data from dispersed production process locations but also the conversion of the data into intelligible information and its integration into the LAN, the main information artery in each enterprise. Some aspects of classical PLC technology will be passed on to the new generation of compact and low-cost automation systems: modular architecture, pre-programmed functional modules and programming languages in accordance with IEC 1131-3.

Additional information

Authors: KLAGE D W, JRC Petten (NL)
Bibliographic Reference: Paper presented: Automatiserings Technisch Symposium 95, Delft (NL), March 16, 1995
Availability: Available from (1) as Paper NL 39183 ORA
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