Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Portable PLC programmes

The computers controlling certain factory machines are primitive and rigid. An EU project rectified the problems, creating a system that ports the programmes to any device while simplifying the coding.
Portable PLC programmes
A programmable logic controller (PLC) is a computer used for machine automation and remote control; hence, they are commonly used in factories. Historically, PLC programmes have been very difficult to modify, and a workaround solution whereby each manufacturer uses their own programming template results in brand inflexibility.

To date, it has not been possible to automatically convert a control programme between different PLC brands. The conversion could only be done manually and by the original programmer.

The 12-member EU-funded PLC-PROG project worked to uniquely provide a universal programming tool for PLCs. The tool is compliant with the IEC 61131-3 standard and valid across all PLC brands. The software also employs graphical and object-oriented programming, meaning that specific programming skills are not required.

Furthermore, the technology performs monitoring, and visualisation can be achieved either from the system directly or via additional modules. After three years, the project concluded in August 2013.

The project revised its original plan, choosing a Java applet approach for reasons of simplicity. The resulting prototype system met the initial specifications, and was installed and tested in two industrial settings. Each setting used PLCs of specific brands, having incompatible code, yet the project's post-processor tool generated new code, thereby allowing conversion. A second demonstration involved successful conversion of the PLC code controlling filters in a wastewater plant in Romania.

Other project testing established that the software tools can be easily converted from old applications or between PLC brands. Doing so leads to an 85 % reduction in average implementation time. SCADA visualisation can be established with minimal configuration, using other software or a web browser. User evaluation confirmed the project's achievements, and endorsed the intuitive user interface.

PLC-PROG produced tools yielding a great and hitherto unknown convenience for the conversion of PLC code among devices. Project advances will help to improve the efficiency of industrial applications, meaning cost savings and opportunities for the consortium in providing certified training.

Related information


Factory machines, coding, programmable logic controller, machine automation, programming tool, IEC 61131-3, object-oriented programming, PLC code
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