So who programs these devices?
A PLC Programmer maybe an Electrical Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Process Engineer, Electrical Technician or Electrician. These are the most common. Scientists possibly to control a experiment. Maybe some IT/ Software engineers working with the automation engineer to interface to the business system or MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning).
Typical Job Functions:
- Interface with Customer to identify and workout design and concerns.
- Collaborate with sales and other supporting engineering departments.
- Design, create, and test PLC Programs.
- Integrate programs share information and control with DCS / SCADA systems.
- Program Human Machine Interface (HMI), Man Machine Interface(MMI), Operator Interface System (OIS), and Operator Interface Panel(OIP) devices.
- Design graphics for HMI, MMI, and etc.
- Maintain programs and supporting documentation.
- Supply technical support to customers and field service personnel.
PLC Programmer Salary Stats
As a PLC programmer, the ten things you need to do are below. Some of these may or may not be within your responsibilities, but use what applies:
- Know what you will be programming. How can you program that machine if you don't know what it does? Hopefully you were involved during its design; otherwise you need to have some meetings with the designers to get a very thorough understanding.
- Get other people's input early. I would recommend that you get input from those who will be using the machine or process sooner rather than later. It will be easier this way. Just be mindful of your particular company culture to avoid stepping on toes, know what I mean?
- Communicate. All throughout the process, to your boss and colleagues. If you have the added responsibility of interfacing with the customer, even more so.
- Make a list of all your inputs and outputs and their types. Do this and maintain through the coding process. This might uncover something you or someone else forgot. Consider this necessary it you are responsible for purchasing PLC hardware.
- Plan your program before you program. Avoid the temptation to just start coding, without taking the time to plan the sequences and functions. I believe that 1 hour of planning upfront will save at least three later in rewriting and debugging.
- Choose the most appropriate programming language for the task. Yes, ladder diagram (LD) is the most familiar, but not best for larger projects. It does not readily make modularization easy, Function Blocks (FB) do.
- Try to modularize your program as much as possible. Write a common program sequence often? Do it once, and use it everywhere in the program. And use it in your next program. Depending on your PLC vendor and thus the programming software, you can change that modularized code once and have all the other iterations update. Yep, a real time saver.
- Use the software's comments function to document your program. It may not seem necessary when you are in the thick of it and very familiar with the program, but trust me, you will be happy you did. Chances are you will not be banging your head against the wall as much, months or years later when you need to look at the program again.
- Take the time to make it simple, so that it easier for you many months later or for a co-worker to figure out (see 5, 7, and 8 above). Yes it will take more time in the beginning, but much less later. Think about how much better you'll sleep knowing that if you have to revisit that project years later, it will be easy, well easier anyway.
- Lastly, may be you heard this one, SAVE OFTEN! And on more than one media. You can get software to synchronize your files among different drives and media.
- Bonus Tip! Make sure you have FUN, no need for it to be painful.
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