What is PLC and Soft PLC?
Programmable Logic Controllers, which is frequently seen in factory especially about machines visits those days, is abbreviated as PLC. PLC is a microcomputer system that processes the information it receives from the sensors according to the program given to it and transfers the results to the work elements. Over time, its features have been developed and made available in industrial control areas for monitoring and reporting etc. purposes such as data collection about process control, temperature, pressure, humidity, speed, machine or process.
Programs suitable for the operation of the system to be controlled are loaded onto the PLCs. PLC programs work in a way to quickly scan the input information in milliseconds, and respond to the corresponding output information in near real time. Automatic control systems provide various advantages to businesses in terms of speed, safety, flexibility of use, product quality and number of personnel. At the same time, it is one of the advantages they provide to businesses that they are ready-made solutions that can work without being affected by the difficult conditions of industrial environments (magnetic field, large temperature differences, dust, etc.).
The memory and processing capacity of PLCs, which have a wide range of uses in the industry, may be insufficient in relation to complex processes, therefore, with the developing technology, there is a transition to industrial PCs which have a stronger structure. Today, there are PLCs that are manufactured as Industrial PCs and called Soft PLCs.
Soft PLC is a technology designed to transform an embedded computer into a fully functional and programmable logic controller, also known as a PLC. For that reason, Soft PLCs offer reliable operation, extremely fast and deterministic program scan times, excellent instructions, high data memory, unlimited user programs and, above all, an open architectural platform that allows users to connect to a wide variety of input/output systems and networks.
Differences Between PLC and Soft PLC
- While Soft PLC supports downloadable functions developed by users and developers, most typical PLCs do not. In addition, Soft PLCs have an embedded web server that offers a number of powerful functions to share data, manipulate data, remotely monitor and maintain appropriate functionality, as well as typical PLCs. It provides an embedded firewall, secure internet connections and Ethernet compatibility.
- Soft PLC is a more cost-effective solution than typical PLC in case of data collection work. This is because although additional hardware is usually required to pull data from typical PLCs, this capability is readily available in Soft PLCs.
- Components used in Soft PLC systems are produced in greater numbers and can be replaced with different manufacturing brands. While the components used in PLCs are typically custom made for a particular manufacturer or brand, this makes typical PLCs much more costly.
- Soft PLCs are easier to configure and program than PLCs. To program a PLC, we need a PLC programming software that depends on the production of the PLC. We need to learn different programming languages according to the brand and model of the PLC. In the case of Soft PLC, a much easier configuration and update option is offered.
- While most conventional PLCs do not meet the required degree of protection and safety to comply with certain standards, Soft PLCs have a much higher degree of safety.
- Soft PLCs are much more powerful than typical PLCs. They can handle thousands of inputs/outputs and more processes.
- Soft PLCs are easy to maintain and troubleshoot because they have an easier user interface and diagnostic tool. Diagnosing faults and malfunctions in Soft PLCs is much easier than in a typical PLC system.
- When it comes to small machines or systems, SOFT PLCs are not a viable solution as small PLCs are much cheaper and compact. There are systems that require far fewer inputs/outputs where typical small PLCs are preferred.
Since PLC is easy to program, people started to have machines do the work just by programming them. While the machines were doing this job, there was almost no need to enter the factory. By connecting to the center where the data is transmitted with the storage method called cloud storage, the whole system has become possible even on tablets and phones. With the evolution of technology in this direction, Soft PLCs will begin to appear quite frequently in the near future.