Ladder logic and Realy


Ladder logic is the main programming method used for PLCs. As mentioned before, ladder logic has been developed to mimic relay logic. The decision to use the relay logic diagrams was a strategic one. By selecting ladder logic as the main programming method, the amount of retraining needed for engineers and tradespeople was greatly reduced.

Modern control systems still include relays, but these are rarely used for logic. An example of a relay in a simple control application is shown in Figure below. In this system the first relay on the left is used as normally closed, and will allow current to flow until a voltage is applied to the input A. The second relay is normally open and will not allow current to flow until a voltage is applied to the input B. If current is flowing through the first two relays then current will flow through the coil in the third relay, and close the switch for output C. This circuit would normally be drawn in the ladder logic form. This can be read logically as C will be on if A is off and B is on.

A simple relay controller
 
The example in Figure above does not show the entire control system, but only the logic. When we consider a PLC there are inputs, outputs, and the logic. Figure below shows a more complete representation of the PLC. Here there are two inputs from push buttons. We can imagine the inputs as activating 24V DC relay coils in the PLC. This in turn drives an output relay that switches 115V AC, that will turn on a light. Note, in actual PLCs inputs are never relays, but outputs are often relays. The ladder logic in the PLC is actually a computer program that the user can enter and change. Notice that both of the input push buttons are normally open, but the ladder logic inside the PLC has one normally open contact, and one normally closed contact. Do not think that the ladder logic in the PLC needs to match the inputs or outputs. Many beginners will get caught trying to make the ladder logic match the input types.


PLC illustrated with relays
Many relays also have multiple outputs (throws) and this allows an output relay to also be an input simultaneously. The circuit shown in Figure below is an example of this, it is called a seal in circuit. In this circuit the current can flow through either branch of the circuit, through the contacts labelled A or B. The input B will only be on when the output B is on. If B is off, and A is energized, then B will turn on. If B turns on then the input B will turn on, and keep output B on even if input A goes off. After B is turned on the output B will not turn off.
A seal in circuit
When A is pushed, the output B will turn on, and the input B will also turn on and keep B on permanently until power is removed.
The line on the right is being left off intentionally and is implied in these diagrams.



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