How to Create a PLC Maintenance Checklist
Answered October 23 2020
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are a critical part of the automation of manufacturing and other industrial-based companies. When PLCs fail, a business may experience expensive downtime due to the fact that procuring parts quickly can be a challenge. Establishing a regular PLC maintenance program and checklist can help minimize or eliminate that downtime by discovering potential issues before they cause major problems.
Before You Begin
According to MRO Electric, it’s important to conduct some pre-maintenance tasks before beginning preventive maintenance on your PLC. Most importantly, be sure to back up your PLC program, so you have a current version in case anything goes wrong during the maintenance procedures. It’s important to keep project backups as well as a master in case files get corrupted during maintenance activities.
Once a backup is made, be sure to adhere to proper lockout procedures, shut down power to the unit, and take a complete inventory of all your parts.
What Tasks Should Be Included in a PLC Maintenance Checklist?
- Environmental Conditions. Things like temperature and humidity can negatively affect your PLC components. Be sure that operating factors fall within safe ranges. You may consider investing in sensors that can monitor these factors on a 24/7 basis and send you alerts if ranges are exceeded.
- Basic Housekeeping. Be sure to regularly remove dust and dirt buildup. This simple task can prevent your system from short-circuiting. Canned air can be an excellent tool to perform cleaning tasks easily.
- Air Filters. Be sure to replace or wash air filters, so that your PLC can benefit from maximum air circulation.
- Connections. Tighten all input and output module connections including communication cabins, sockets, plugs, and terminal strips. Connections are subject to loosening when vibrations are present. If this is your situation, you may want to invest in a vibration sensor.
- I/O Devices. Be sure all devices are adjusted properly, especially analog devices that must be regularly calibrated.
- Overall Condition. Visually inspect components for wear, discoloration, or burnt odors.
- LED Indicators. These indicators are designed to be an easy way for you to know when you must replace the battery for your RAM memory module.
- Scan and Error History. Check to see whether your system has generated any recent scanning or error histories. Find the root cause for these error reports.
- Circuit Cards. Be sure these are calibrated twice a year with process control analogs.
- Sensors. If you rely on sensors, be sure they are checked and maintained according to manufacturer instructions.
- Electrical Flow. Address any power surges or shorts immediately. Have a backup power source on hand, and be sure to check its proper operation regularly as well.
- EMI. Audit local wiring to identify potential sources of electromagnetic interference. Be sure wiring designs avoid close placement of lower-level components and high-current wires. That combination can result in static electricity issues that can be hard to resolve.
- Other Equipment and Materials. Keep noise- or heat-producing equipment away from your PLC. In addition, remove things like drawings and manuals to ensure that they do not accidentally block air flow and result in overheating damage. However, you should keep the PLC close to the machine it’s controlling.
- Update Requirements. Incorporate any product notices, recalls, patches, or upgrades into your maintenance plan.
- Inventory and Plan for Replacement Parts. Since PLC parts can be difficult to acquire, especially for legacy systems, be sure you keep a stock of critical replacement parts. Record where they are located for faster access when needed.
Downloadable PLC Maintenance Checklist Template
We’ve created a template for you to use based on the recommendations in the previous section. Feel free to download and adjust as you see fit.
How to Implement a PLC Maintenance Checklist
Although a simple written checklist may suffice for very small organizations with limited PLCs, medium- to large-sized companies may want to incorporate a PLC maintenance checklist into a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Having all maintenance checklists stored in one centralized location means that your maintenance technicians have consistent and complete information.
Depending on your equipment requirements, you may be able to schedule regular work orders that will appear automatically in a technician’s workload on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. In addition, if you install sensor technology, you can program any discrepancies so that you’re immediately alerted when things like temperature, vibration, or humidity fall out of range.
Benefits of PLC Maintenance
Industrial companies that take PLC preventive maintenance seriously will reap many benefits. Here are just a few:
- Lengthen Lifespan of PLC Equipment. Although manufacturers design PLCs to be quite durable and operate in harsh factory environments, adhering to a good maintenance program can extend the life of your PLC even further.
- Increased Uptime. When a PLC goes down, it can affect your entire production line or critical pieces of equipment. This can result in expensive repairs as well as extended downtime to your production schedule.
- Cost Savings. Besides reducing or eliminating the costs of downtime, you will also be able to drop other expenditures. For example, if you keep a small inventory of replacement parts, you will not be scrambling to pay overnight shipment costs or premium emergency repair bills.
PLCs play a vital role in the efficient and effective operation of today’s industrial facility. They receive important information from critical pieces of equipment and can help control outputs of different pieces of machinery.
Most PLCs are durable and well-designed, so they can be a dependable component of the modern factory. In order to keep them operating at their best, maintenance managers should create and execute a comprehensive preventive maintenance plan that includes a complete PLC checklist.
Doing so will help keep this critical component doing its job well, lengthen its lifespan, and, most importantly, keep your facility up and running smoothly and productively.
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When working in tandem within a given system, actuators receive signals from sensors and perform some kind of task based on that input.
What industries can use IIoT sensors?
Any industry that uses or maintains equipment can make use of IIoT sensors. A few of them include agriculture, manufacturing, and retail.
How are sensors used in predictive maintenance?
Predictive maintenance (PdM) typically uses data from sensors that monitor various conditions on equipment. Algorithms analyze data to predict maintenance.
What are the up and coming IIoT projects in the near future?
The most exciting IIoT projects on the horizon are for maintenance and training tasks and improving energy management with AR.
What do I need to get started for a predictive maintenance (PdM) program?
We talk a lot about planning in implementing maintenance strategies, and predictive maintenance (PdM) programs are no different.
How can my facility use acoustic analysis?
Acoustic analysis has fewer applications than PdM-tool vibration analysis, but what it lacks in breadth of application it makes up for in effectiveness.
What are some industry use cases for vibration analysis?
Amongst the tools in the predictive maintenance (PdM) toolkit, vibration analysis sees tons of use because of its extremely wide variety of applications.
What are the best IIoT projects to start with?
The best Industrial IIoT projects to start with are small ones that meet a specific business need. Once successful, you can increase the size and scope.
How much does deploying IIoT at my business cost?
Industry experts say that deploying an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will cost a minimum of $50,000 or roughly 10 percent of your information technology budget over three years.
What are the benefits of IIoT?
Early implementers of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) have reported better protection of assets, and raised levels of reliability and performance.
What are barriers to IIoT adoption?
The top five barriers to IIoT adoption are cybersecurity issues, a lack of standardization, an installed legacy system, high upfront investment, and a lack of skilled workers
What is prescriptive maintenance and how does it differ from predictive maintenance?
Prescriptive maintenance, is a maintenance concept that analyzes an equipment’s condition to create specialized recommendations to reduce operational risks.
What’s the easiest way to start a predictive maintenance program?
Start with your most critical piece of equipment, track information related to failures, and set up alerts to generate work orders to prevent breakdowns.
What are the biggest problems IIoT could solve for maintenance departments?
Each of these challenges can be alleviated through proper application of IIoT technology, so let’s run through each one starting from helping managing cost.
Will Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) replace SCADA?
If it does happen, it will probably take a long while, mainly because it would involve uprooting one well-established system in favor of installing another.
What is machine learning and how does machine learning work with predictive maintenance?
Machine learning allows for more intelligent ways of processing data to predict when an asset will require maintenance.
What is the difference between Industry 3.0 and Industry 4.0?
In terms of the words themselves, Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth industrial revolution. The term was coined in 2011 to represent the role that cyber-physical systems (CPS), cloud computing, and IIoT (industrial internet of things) will have on manufacturing processes.
How do I incorporate predictive maintenance without sensors?
Almost by definition, predictive maintenance uses sensors, but the core principle of PdM doesn’t necessarily depend on them.
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What are common use cases for using a voltage sensor in predictive maintenance?
One use case is power failure detection which can create significant downtime losses, and immediate notification can help minimize larger problems.
How do I select assets for predictive maintenance?
Choosing assets for predictive maintenance is a matter of priority, especially starting out. A few of the factors you’ll want to look at include:
What are the most common types of IIoT sensors available?
Dozens of sensors are already available to monitor, track, and report on critical aspects of your operations with more under development each day.
What are common use cases for using a vibration sensor in predictive maintenance?
Vibration often signals a potential problem within production facilities that can result in future breakdowns or shorter equipment lifespans.
What are common use cases for using a pressure sensor in predictive maintenance?
Pressure sensors alert maintenance teams when the pressure in a certain tank or piece of equipment falls outside of a specified level,
What is the difference between IoT and IIoT?
Given the specific demands of industrial settings, IIoT needs to be more robust and flexible than most IoT devices. Characteristics that set them include:
What are common use cases for using a temperature sensor in predictive maintenance?
Most equipment don’t fare too well when temperatures get too high or too low, so even using a simple thermometer can be useful for detecting issues.
How do you improve operations with IoT and predictive maintenance?
The problem with PM is it’s based on the assumption that equipment failures occur on a schedule. The reality is that only 18% of assets fail based on age.
What’s the association between IoT and predictive maintenance?
Using interconnected technology allows us to network cameras and sensors easily with existing computer systems, creating automatic maintenance events.
What are some failure prediction models in predictive maintenance?
With predictive maintenance (PdM), it's understanding an asset's most probable failure modes and monitoring those conditions.
How do you apply continuous improvement to maintenance?
If you’re not focused on continuous improvement each and every day, it won’t be long before you’ll be wasting a significant amount of time and money.
What is the difference between predictive and preventive maintenance?
Although predictive maintenance is similar to preventive maintenance, this activity requires particular preset conditions.
What is level of repair analysis (LORA)?
Without getting too technical, level of repair analysis, or LORA, is a process used to determine when and where an asset should be repaired.