How Are Companies Using PLCs?
Answered September 03 2020
Medium-sized organizations that are in a growth mode have enormous opportunities to capture market share. Finding maintenance solutions to help foster that growth in an efficient, affordable, and reasonably quick time frame can be a challenge. Many manufacturing firms in different industries use a programmable logic controller (PLC) as a central component of their computer maintenance systems to help do just that.
A PLC monitors a specified set of inputs on a piece of industrial equipment and then makes output-related decisions. PLCs are often used as a core part of a predictive maintenance program by collecting data from critical assets and triggering a work order or maintenance decision before major breakdowns occur. Here are some real-life applications of PLC-based maintenance solutions in different situations.
What Industries Use PLCs?
A wide variety of industries use PLC technology to maintain equipment, collect data, and control systems within their production lines. These include:
Oil and gas companies can grow and expand by using well pad sites, which allow several wells to be drilled in one location. This increases production while reducing the amount of surface area disturbed.
Each well pad requires a control system, which often needs to be programmed and created uniquely at each site. A well pad may contain a single or up to half a dozen different oil wells, which all require sensors, pumps, and valves to operate efficiently. If maintenance or updates are required, and different programs are used at each well pad, this process can be cumbersome, time-consuming, and expensive.
Some industrial oil and gas companies have developed a single, scalable solution that dynamically configures PLCs as well as associated human-machine interface (HMI) software when programs are run, based on the number of wells operating on a particular well pad.
This type of solution allows each well pad control system to correctly read inputs and share only outputs that are related to that particular well pad location. Maintenance technicians then have accurate information about existing wells, can eliminate the need for manually sorting out relevant information, and can troubleshoot problems more efficiently.
As the oil and gas company grows and adds wells to well pad locations, using PLC-based systems make expansion more efficient as well as streamlines operator training and education.
PLCs are used in coordination with bus technology to help control both material ratios and processes. Since this industry utilizes sophisticated and complex processes, PLC technology is often used for data recording as well as quality control.
As in many other industries, PLCs help control and maintain the equipment that produces and processes different paper products. These assets often operate at high speeds such as in offset newspaper printing or book production.
In order to produce a high quality cement, companies must mix the correct proportions of many raw materials in a kiln. Cement companies must use a distributed control system that includes PLC controls to manage coal kiln, ball milling, and shaft kiln.
PLC technologies are present in a wide variety of other industries as well including aerospace, food production, health care, plastics, and textile manufacturing.
Maintaining a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is often one of the major responsibilities of a facilities manager, regardless of industry. Climate control and indoor air quality are important in any office building, and more complex HVAC systems may be required for manufacturing or industrial organizations that need specific temperature or humidity levels for storage of raw materials, sensitive production lines, or finished products.
Sensors can play a major role in generating inputs to a PLC including temperature and humidity recordings. If a particular area falls out of a designated range, a PLC-based system can notify a maintenance manager or trigger a work order before spoilage or product damage occurs.
For large complexes, multiple furnaces, boilers, and air conditioning systems may be connected to handle all of a facility’s HVAC needs. A PLC-based system can pull multiple inputs from all disparate systems into one centralized computer for easier analysis and management.
As many industries had to figure out ways to conduct business as usual during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, companies that conducted PLC upgrades had to find new remote ways of working with clients.
Two technologies allowed PLC systems to continue serving the needs of their manufacturing companies, even during a global pandemic:
- Technology that allowed sharing of project files and syncing of updates
- Video conferencing technology that allowed software consultants to take remote control of a facility’s computer system in order to upload and download necessary changes.
These upgrades have allowed maintenance managers to continue to direct their teams with the latest technology available. Mobile-first solutions have added to the ability to operate remotely and safely, efficiently collecting data from service sites and critical assets. In tandem, these solutions provide a platform to be able to share background information, history, and any updated output data from the monitoring devices themselves.
PLC technology as well as related technologies that have evolved around HMI and maintenance systems are an excellent tool to help a wide variety of industries meet growing maintenance needs. Being able to respond to the issues and malfunctions of critical assets and systems by accurately understanding the input data collected can make a significant difference in how quickly a maintenance team can respond to a problem.
In the long run, PLC-based systems allow management to make smarter business decisions, have the information they need to run necessary analytics, and generate a transparent view into their production and manufacturing operations. All these factors are key to maintaining growth and generating long-term profits and success.
Latest Maintenance Articles
- What Are Ideal Preventive Maintenance Schedules for Manufacturing Equipment?Root Cause Analysis Techniques and FundamentalsHow to Use eBay to Save Money and Time on ProcurementThe Ultimate Guide to Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)How to Respond to an FDA Warning LetterWhat Is Maintenance Process Mapping?
Fleet Management and GPS
Oil & Gas
Asset Management Questions & Answers
The Ultimate Guide to Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)
A programmable logic controller (PLC) works to control a computer system in an industrial organization. Here's everything you wanted to know about them.
How to Create a PLC Maintenance Checklist
Establishing a regular PLC maintenance checklist can minimize or eliminate downtime by discovering potential issues before they cause problems.
What Are the Risks and Benefits of Using a PLC?
While PLCs have been around for a long time, there are still some significant PLC risks that must be considered before implementation.
What Is a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)?
For industrial applications, computers commonly come in the form of what's known as a programmable logic controller (PLC).
What Are the Best Tips for PLC Maintenance?
Given that PLCs (programmable logic controllers) are integral to many industrial operations, it’s important to keep an eye on PLC maintenance.
What Is the Return on Investment for Predictive Maintenance?
To get a better idea of what the ROI for predictive maintenance could be in your facility, let’s take a look at a few real-world examples.
Predictive maintenance in agriculture
We cover the ways you can use IIoT to optimize soil cultivation, crop growth, livestock raising, and their related processes.
Predictive Maintenance in the Food Industry
The high upfront costs of implementing new maintenance methodologies can be difficult, but predictive maintenance can actually help.
Pressure Sensors: Types, Use Cases, and Definition
A pressure sensor is a device that senses and measures pressure. Pressure in this case, is defined as the amount of force exerted over an area.
What’s The Difference Between Sensors and Actuators?
Whereas sensors monitor conditions of equipment, actuators drive events within equipment. They ensure systems are functioning effectively.
6 Types of Temperature Sensors Defined and Use Cases
Temperature sensors are devices on machinery that track ambient temperatures, assess readings, and measure the impact of heat conditions
IoT Manufacturing: How IoT in Manufacturing Will Benefit Future Workplaces
IoT holds an especially significant place in manufacturing, with value estimates reaching up to $3.7 trillion in factories alone by 2025.
The 6 Sensors for Predictive Maintenance That Optimize Repair Timelines
Today, predictive maintenance relies on sensors in three major areas: early fault detection, failure detection, and CMMS integration.
How Does a Voltage Sensor Work? Definition and Common Uses
Voltage sensors are wireless tools that can be attached to any number of assets, machinery or equipment for monitoring purposes.
Industrial IoT Sensors: What Are They and Which Businesses Use Them
Industrial IoT sensors are widely used in different industries to monitor equipment, assets, systems, and overall performance.
IoT use Cases (Internet of Things) for Commercial and Industrial Business
Internet of Things technology is becoming increasingly prevalent throughout homes and businesses alike in numerous applications.
What Is a Vibration Sensor: How to Measure Vibration to Minimize Failures
Vibration sensors can be used to give maintenance teams insight into conditions within assets that might lead to equipment failure.
Failure Prediction Machine Learning: Using Machine Learning to Find Failures Before They Occur
Failure prediction machine learning is the application of artificial intelligence within the maintenance arena. This allows you to monitor your assets.
How do sensors and actuators work together?
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.
What are common use cases for using a mileage sensor in predictive maintenance?
If your business maintains a fleet of vehicles, you’ll want to use mileage sensors to trigger regular inspections, fluid changes, and replacements.
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.