A Programmable Logic Controller or PLC is a ruggedized computer used for industrial automation. These controllers can automate a specific process, machine function, or even an entire production line.
PLCs can range from small modular devices with tens of inputs and outputs (I/O), in a housing integral with the processor, to large rack-mounted modular devices with a count of thousands of I/O, and which are often networked to other PLC and SCADA systems.
They can be designed for multiple arrangements of digital and analog I/O, extended temperature ranges, immunity to electrical noise, and resistance to vibration and impact. Programs to control machine operation are typically stored in battery-backed-up or non-volatile memory.
The PLC receives information from connected sensors or input devices, processes the data and triggers outputs based on pre-programmed parameters. Depending on the inputs and outputs, a PLC can monitor and record run-time data such as machine productivity or operating temperature, automatically start and stop processes, generate alarms if a machine malfunctions, and more. Programmable Logic Controllers are a flexible and robust control solution, adaptable to almost any application.