Engineering 101

Signal Chain vs. Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)

 When it comes to automation, there are two main choices: signal chains and programmable logic controllers (PLCs).

Signal chains surround us; they’re used in our homes, cars, and businesses and help manufacture many products we use daily. Our HVAC systems, fridge, freezer, antilock brakes, and cruise control all use signal chains.

A PLC is simply a more complex signal chain.

Both have advantages and disadvantages, so deciding which is suitable for your application can be challenging. This article will discuss the differences between signal chains and PLCs and help you decide which option is best for you.

Signal chains are typically used for applications that require a high degree of flexibility. They are easy to reconfigure to meet changing needs, such as adding new sensors to an established system. On the other hand, PLCs are better suited for applications requiring less flexibility with well-defined requirements.

Advantages & Disadvantages of using a signal chain

One of the main advantages of using a signal chain is that it can handle a large number of input/output (I/O) signals. That is because each signal in the chain is processed independently. This individual processing also makes diagnosing issues easier because problems can be traced to the exact signal.

Disadvantages of using a signal chain include the fact that they can be more expensive than PLCs. In addition, signal chains can be more difficult to program than PLCs.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Using a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC)

PLCs have several advantages over signal chains. For example, PLCs are typically more rugged and can withstand harsher environments. In addition, PLCs are usually easier to program than signal chains.

On the other hand, PLCs can only handle a limited number of I/O signals because they are processed together. As a result, PLCs can quickly become overloaded, and determining which signal might be causing an issue can be challenging.

One of the other disadvantages of using a PLC is that they are not as flexible as signal chains, as reconfiguring them is more complicated. As a result, PLCs are better suited for applications with well-defined requirements.

Another disadvantage of using a PLC is that it can only handle a limited number of I/O signals. That is because PLCs process all of the signals together. As a result, PLCs can quickly become overloaded if they have to process too many signals.

When would you choose to use a PLC or a signal chain?

When deciding whether to use a signal chain or a PLC, you will need to consider the specific requirements of your application. A signal chain is the better option if you need a high degree of flexibility. A PLC is probably the better option if you need a more rugged system that can withstand harsher environments. A PLC is perhaps the better option if you need an easy-to-program system. Ultimately, the decision of which to use will come down to the specific requirements of your application.

 

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