How easy is a PLC software to use? What features are offered in this software? What features you expect or want in a PLC programming software? Every user has different needs and preferences and so it is very difficult to design one software for all.
Here are some thoughts on most essential features and tools to include in your PLC software package.
A . Built-in simulator:
A built-in simulator is extremely useful in PLC project development. This simulator enables you to test a virtual PLC to test your logic without downloading to an actual PLC. A good simulator will emulate analog and discrete I/O and provide access to logic elements such as timers, counters, control bits, etc.
B. Hot Swapping and Run Time Transfers:
It is very difficult to modify the system, once the project is up and starts running. Imagine how painful it would be to schedule a shutdown at your plant in order to replace an I/O module or change a rung of code.
AAG Engineering prefers to allow its each software for hot swapping and runtime edits. Hot swapping means replacing system modules while the system is HOT or powered, and runtime transfers allow the user to transfer project edits into the CPU without stopping the CPU scan.
C. Auto Discovery :
This software offers an automatic configuration of the hardware setup of your PLC. The only thing you need to do is install each I/O module in the base and power it up. The software will automatically discover the installed modules and assign physical I/O tags based on each module’s position in the base.
Your system is now auto-configured. You can also reconfigure the setup and assign new tags manually. AAG also offers few optional software that can detect other connected devices, such as VFDs, to make your job even easier. It is truly a huge time saver.
D. Data View and Histograms:
Through Data View windows users can monitor and manipulate PLC logic values in real time. Though this facility is offered by most of the PLC software, AAG Engineering’s Data View offers some advanced capabilities, graphical trend charts for instance. Bit and word histograms allow you to sample and plot logic values over time. These can be set up to sample data as often as you choose and can be very helpful in troubleshooting.
E. Search and Cross Reference:
These are very common PLC software functions: Search, Search and Replace, and Cross Reference. These functions will tell you if an address or variable is being used, where it is located, and allow you to easily make changes if needed. AAG Engineering Technologies considers how well the PLC software performs these functions and if it offers the usability our clients’ need. The searches that it allows are a tag, address, comment, instruction or partial and filtering options are available.
Connection options are vital for downloading or working online. We offer with our PLCs plug-and-play USB connections for programming, which is fast and easy to use but require direct connections between the PC and CPU.
With networked PLCs, Ethernet is typically the connection method. But it may require any additional communication software along with these connections.
That software may cause unwanted headaches if it can’t recognize connected controllers. Therefore, we also offer one more option – USB project transfers.
It only requires PLC to allow projects to be downloaded via an onboard USB port. It is crucial when remote PLCs aren’t easily accessible with a PC.
These are just a few of the many features offered by AAG. More features are discussed in the next article.
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