PLC Technology Tendency 2010


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As mainstream control products of purest linage in industrial automation, PLC has never experienced systemic transform and business exploration as today. With constant subtle changes of market competitive pattern, PLC technology is also experiencing unceasing exploration.

Unified software framework platform

Computers, software technology and business demand have brought essential and flexible reform to PLC. Essential reform lies in unified software architecture platform, and flexible attempt refers to “advancement”, which means exploration of business model instead of subversion and abandonment.

The unified software framework platform ranges from integrated architecture of Rockwell based on ControlLogix to So machine of Schneider OEM solutions and PORTO of SIEMENS that is to be launched. For example, newly restructured DM department also pays close attention to PLC, integrity of transmission and robotics, unified solution platform working on software. In technology, PLC are surpassing traditional R&D of unit products and new vitality of itself in the great trend irresistible to new technology; in application, this system will eventually realize real unification of sequential control, process control, transmission control and motion control in the platform instead of separate modularized “piece together”.

Advancement towards general utilization

One the one hand, PLC follows basic survival law of universality and openness, which has become a general trend; on the other hand, with the demand that application market is badly in need of protecting Knowhow of one’s own and of setting up “soft” core competence, customization is also the tendency for development. Based on the specific control system formed by universal PLC control platform, try development of non-embedded board level has also become a choice for some customers; to “advance towards” PLC standard programming environment, and to continue using basic programming language and development of “each computer with one program”, are true for launching PLC partially but cannot become the choice of fresh customers with single product capability.

Advancement toward miniaturization

As far as application number is concerned, small PLC occupies absolute market. Just due to this incentive, the number of new customers increases, while technological barrier decreases. For mainstream suppliers, small PLC has become manufacture industry of similar PLC, which is an unavoidable fact in future. Positioning PLC of small and large size is no longer the action of taking precautions; entering into high-level market is also choice of enterprises in small PLC field, such as Delta and LS.

Small PLC manufacturers are also actively conforming to customers’ requirements, in addition to expanding medium PLC market, which requires continuously expanding IO points and intensifying the following functions of small PLC:

1. Motion control function. Users put forward higher requirements of motion control function mainly in two aspects of performance and function, which become more evident in machine tools, e-manufacturing and packaging industries. While in 2009 small PLC with motion control function of Delta and Schneider gained countertrend growth of high rate, which is the positive result of this requirement.

2. Communication function. It is believed by many manufacturers that network communication is the development direction of future PLC, which can be simplified in system structure in order to reduce costs. Many suppliers of the product that only supported one type of fieldbus previously all consider launching PLC products supporting more buses and industrial Ethernet. In 2009, Siemens launched new product S7-1200, of which the difference with previous S7-200 lies in the intensity of communication function. ABB AC500-eCo also integrates several connecting ports, such as Ethernet and Modbus/CS31.

3. Intensity of processing capacity of analog quantity.


Since they all extricated from computers and of the same teacher, it is unnecessary for PLC to be divided into groups. Leap development of computer technology and storage technology has created favorable conditions for various control integrity. The entrance of hardware system platform based on PLC into technological process is promoted by both market and technology. After Siemens PCS7, PlantPAx of Rockwell Automation is another representative of this trend.

It is proved by market of recent two years. From the perspective of manufacturers, in 2009 Siemens PCS7 won the bidding of Ethylene Project of Fushun Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, another breakthrough of representative significant in Chinese and international petroleum and chemical fields after Qingdao Refining Chemicals. As is known to all, PCS7 hardware of Siemens mainly come from S7-300, 400 and ET200, therefore, its success in technological fields proves that the bound between PLC and DCS is not so distinct. Recently, acquisition of GE to MTL and RA to ICS are both the signs of their entrance into technological fields.