Automation has always played an important part in industrial growth. Automation has taken industrial growth from a state of slow progress to a state of rapid development. This has had a very positive impact on quality and resource management. With companies implementing modern and efficient manufacturing practices like Just-in-time (JIT) and total quality management, there has been an exponential increase in communication speed.
Automation systems were implemented in the form of programmable logic control (PLC) systems with inclusion of sophisticated gadgetry and virtual measuring devices. But, PLC was always In and Out of running, being not able to cope with the rising needs of the industry. This called for something new and more efficient. Then, PC based technology came in to fill the slot. Its influencing processing speeds and efficiency was out and out the best to address the growing need of machine and industrial control systems. Hence, based on PC based technology, a new class of industrial grade controllers known as programmable automation controllers (PACs) was introduced to establish the missing link.
PACs are a revolutionary breed of industrial controllers that combines functions of PLCS with the processing power, advanced input/output capabilities and connectivity options of PCs.
Programmable automation controllers (PACs), presents significantly more flexibility, openness and performance. PACs allow users to make a leap in capability without re-engineering. Featuring a portable control engine that sits on top of the operating system, PACs also give users the ability to firstly maximize the benefits of their application; and secondly, to optimize the automation platform.
"The transformation that PC technology is going through is tremendous. PC technology is moving ahead at a tremendous speed. Every few month later, Intel adds one more dot higher-up on its processing speed chart," Says Jayaram pillai, MD of national instruments. Thus, by using single open software like National instrument+s Labview coupled with modular hardware architecture, enterprises can now easily address advanced automation applications while availing huge productivity improvements and long term cost benefit. " Software is the backbone of automation", says pillai. "40 % of content in an automobile is about software."
Benefits of PACs
The benefits of PACs are as follows:
- Increase in productivity and operational efficiency.
- Reduction in operational costs:
- Employing common, standards-based architectures and networks.
- Allowing engineers to choose different system components for a platform that uses cost-effective COTS rather than proprietary products and technologies.
-Allowing a seamless migration path that protects investments in both I/O and applications development.
- Enabling users to have more control over their control system - PAC Systems allows users the option to choose the hardware and programming language that best fits each particular application, design upgrades on their own timetables, and design and build products at any location
The automation and research body (ARC) designed PACs to incorporate specifications read multi-domain graphics like PXI, CRIO, CFC, CVs, etc, single development software such as DAQ, vision, etc, ruggedness like PC, PDA, etc, network interfaces (hundred of algorithms) and communication.
Since, PACs use a single software platform, combining PLC, PC and IC performance to monitor process, batch, motion, etc; further advancement in the form of custom circuit control can be easily developed under PACs to monitor and execute predictive maintenance.
Vishnu Vasanth, marketing engineer of national instruments says,"Custom circuitry can be built-in PAC using software called LABVIEW", says Pillai. "The best part about PAC is the combination of the best of PLC and PC technology and this means the ruggedness of PLCs, software stability of PC and the independence to incorporate modular and diverse I/O ".