Omron symposium debates PCs versus PLCs

Despite a few persistent drawbacks, personal computers (PCs) may be gaining on programmable logic controllers (PLCs) in manufacturing. This was one of the main topics discussed by users, integrators, and manufacturers during a June 16 symposium here at Omron Electronics. Users included Gary Shelton, electronic engineering supervisor, Hi Stat, an automotive parts man...

07/01/1999


Despite a few persistent drawbacks, personal computers (PCs) may be gaining on programmable logic controllers (PLCs) in manufacturing. This was one of the main topics discussed by users, integrators, and manufacturers during a June 16 symposium here at Omron Electronics. Users included Gary Shelton, electronic engineering supervisor, Hi Stat, an automotive parts manufacturer and Karim Lokas, engineering manager for Unify, a textile manufacturer. John Cavalenes, engineering manager at Controllink Inc., represented integrators, while Jeff Meyers, Omron product marketing manager, represented manufacturers. Mr. Lokas says he'll consider PC-based control only with Microsoft Windows NT with real-time extensions or the next release of Windows CE. His chief concerns about PCs are lack of robustness, redundancy, and continual software upgrade costs. Mr. Shelton agrees that PCs are strong on data handling and that he uses them for test applications. Mr. Cavalenes reported that customers are not yet demanding PC-based control. However, users are beginning to look at optimizing entire manufacturing processes, rather than focusing on individual machine control. This will drive PC-based control and give manufacturing managers data for defining process bottlenecks and improving total line up-time and profitability.





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