IIoT, Industrie 4.0

How is IIoT changing industrial controller use, selection?

How are programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and industrial PCs (IPCs), embedded controllers, programmable automation controllers (PACs), smart input/output (I/O) modules, other logic devices and related software helping Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) promises envisioned? A webcast investigates.

By Kevin Gibson and L. John Shipley November 6, 2021
Courtesy: Patti Engineering, Control Engineering

 

Learning Objectives

  • Examine how industrial logic devices such as PLCs, IPCs, embedded controllers, PACs, smart IO modules, combination controller/human-machine interfaces and others have adapted to the needs of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing initiatives.
  • Review often-used terms, such as scalability, programming flexibility and interoperability, as they relate to industrial controllers.
  • Determine what to look for in a PLC, IPC, or other controller to match application needs and why and how cybersecurity matters.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing concepts are familiar to architects of industrial automation and controls. How are programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and industrial PCs (IPCs), embedded controllers, programmable automation controllers (PACs), smart input/output (I/O) modules, other logic devices and related software helping IIoT promises envisioned? If an application needs a controller, what kind should be considered and why? Does IIoT imply cybersecurity and interoperability, or are those separate considerations? What about scalability and growth versus a “set it and forget it” design? Are you asking the right questions? Will you have the right answers when someone else asks?

Kevin Gibson, senior controls engineer, Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) and L. John Shipley, PE, CAP, director of Indiana operations, senior electrical engineer, Patti Engineering, provide answers in a Nov. 11 Control Engineering webcast, “PLCs and other controllers in an IIoT world,” archived for a year, thereafter. An RCEP professional development hour is available. The webcast learning objectives are to:

  • Examine how industrial logic devices such as PLCs, IPCs, embedded controllers, PACs, smart I/O modules, combination controller/human-machine interfaces (HMIs) and others have adapted to the needs of IIoT, Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing initiatives.
  • Review often-used terms, such as scalability, programming flexibility and interoperability, as they relate to industrial controllers.
  • Determine what to look for in a PLC, IPC or other controllers to match application needs.
  • Learn cybersecurity considerations of industrial controllers.
  • See how applications and lesson-learned examples can help with controller selection.

PLCs, then and now

Controllers of today have adapted to new needs, Shipley said. In the past, PLCs:

  • Were designed to replace relay panels and the fixed wiring of relay logic.
  • Had limited memory and had to be expanded by adding modules.
  • Started to be networked, over time, through serial communication networks such as RS-232C, RS-422, RS-485.

As needs to control more sophisticated equipment arose, more powerful communication protocols based on Ethernet were developed, and today, PLCs have:

  • Significantly more onboard memory.
  • More commands to enable more control functions.
  • More programming language options (IEC 61131-3)
  • More communication protocol options.
  • More communication resource options.
Modern information needs have guided evolution of controllers, suggested John Shipley, PE, CAP, director of Indiana operations, senior electrical engineer, Patti Engineering, in the Nov. 11 Control Engineering webcast, “PLCs and other controllers in an IIoT world,” archived for a year, thereafter. An RCEP professional development hour is available. Also presenting is Kevin Gibson, senior controls engineer, Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT). Courtesy: Patti Engineering, Control Engineering

Modern information needs have guided evolution of controllers, suggested John Shipley, PE, CAP, director of Indiana operations, senior electrical engineer, Patti Engineering, in the Nov. 11 Control Engineering webcast, “PLCs and other controllers in an IIoT world,” archived for a year, thereafter. An RCEP professional development hour is available. Also presenting is Kevin Gibson, senior controls engineer, Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT). Courtesy: Patti Engineering, Control Engineering

Controller considerations include interoperability, network architecture

Today, in addition to cybersecurity, application requirements include interoperability and network architecture consideration, Gibson said. These include:

  • Ease of exposing data to consumers (interfaces/connections/protocols)
  • 5G/wireless protocols
  • Wired infrastructure
  • Data aggregation via I/O block or controller
  • Connection issue diagnosis
  • Ease of consuming, storing, processing this data
  • Identify individual device
  • Identify data fields, types
  • Refresh speeds.
Safety, physical size, input/output requirements and modularity are among many considerations when choosing a programmable logic controller (PLC) or other industrial controller, said Kevin Gibson, senior controls engineer, Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT), in the Nov. 11 Control Engineering webcast, “PLCs and other controllers in an IIoT world,” archived for a year, thereafter. Also presenting is John Shipley, PE, CAP, director of Indiana operations, senior electrical engineer, Patti Engineering. Courtesy: AMT, Control Engineering

Safety, physical size, input/output requirements and modularity are among many considerations when choosing a programmable logic controller (PLC) or other industrial controller, said Kevin Gibson, senior controls engineer, Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT), in the Nov. 11 Control Engineering webcast, “PLCs and other controllers in an IIoT world,” archived for a year, thereafter. Also presenting is John Shipley, PE, CAP, director of Indiana operations, senior electrical engineer, Patti Engineering. Courtesy: AMT, Control Engineering

Much more on these topics is available in the 1-hour webcast and question-and-answer session.

Kevin Gibson, senior controls engineer, Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) and L. John Shipley, PE, CAP, director of Indiana operations, senior electrical engineer, Patti Engineering; edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com.

KEYWORDS: Controllers, PLCs, IIoT, Industry 4.0

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Kevin Gibson and L. John Shipley
Author Bio: Kevin Gibson, senior controls engineer, Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT) and L. John Shipley, PE, CAP, director of Indiana operations, senior electrical engineer, Patti Engineering