PAC Systems - Linking The Computers And PLCs For A Double Efficient Functionality

What is a PAC?
Both the computer and the programmable logic controller are two devices common to exist in many industries where work needs to be delivered at the shortest time possible and at a minimal cost. What if we combined the functions of the PC and PLC together into one? What we get is a Programmable Automation Controller device that puts into good use the aspect of versatility.

This name was first formulated in 2001 to best define the needs of control hardware users. Moreover, the term also served as an expression these hardware users could use when describing the prowess of their gadgets . The chief pioneering group of the name was known as ARC Advisory group that was passionate about the manufacturing industry.

PC (Personal Computer) are essentially everywhere in businesses and used for all sort of tasks like slide/video presentations, spreadsheets, documentation, databases and engineering applications, etc. PCs do a ton of work these days.

When you look at your PC what do see? Simply: a Box, a Screen, a Keyboard, and a Mouse.

Imagine it in a factory placed by a machine to control it. How long might it last? Not long since the PC is meant to operate in a office or home. The harsh environment and perhaps the even harsher worker using it will kill it long before its normal life cycle.

Enter the Industrial PC, a more robust design able to handle the heat and atmospheric conditions with the additional features like some I/O for interfacing. Typically the Box and Screen will be integrated and the keyboard and mouse or pointing device will be ruggedized - able to deal with water, solvents, higher temperature, and shock/impacts.

But a industrial PC is probably using an operating system that is not suited for high-performance and deterministic industrial applications. If additional I/O is required, expansion cards or special extensions may need to be added and integrated into the PC's operating system to deliver the high-performance, deterministic operation.

A PLC is already an evolved computer specific for industrial machine control but it lacks modern application requirements for network connectivity, device interoperability, and enterprise data integration. For a PLC to provide these functions, network gateways or protocol converters and interpreting software running on a separate PC, with special software for enterprise systems must often be integrated into the system.

So the PAC or programmable automation controller combines the network communications and interoperability of PC to allow business data to be collected real time from the factory (or the field) and the robustness and deterministic execution of the PLC.

Providing a definition of a programmable automation controller, the ARC Advisory group, lists these required features:

  • In a single platform have the functions of logic, motion, drives, and process control.
  • Use a single development environment for sharing tagging within a single database. This will speed program development.
  • The controller software and hardware must be seamlessly integrated .
  • The software will allow design of programs that allow control among many linked controllers of a process.
  • Feature open and modular designs, from machines in factories to individual operation in processing factories.
  • Use common standards for networking interfaces, programming languages, and communication protocols, thus enabling data communication between different vendors of a networked system.
  • Use advanced design for faster processing and I/O scanning speed.

Today, search the term PAC and you are swiftly directed to several pages of this unique device that can serves the function of data acquisition, control processes, remote equipment monitoring, machine vision and control of motion.


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