A PLC (programmable logic controller) is a ruggedized computer used to automate production processes and machine functions. This industrial control solution helps monitor the operation of various manufacturing equipment, like assembly lines, robotic devices, etc. and diagnose faults in electro-mechanical processes.
The PLC is one of the key elements of a manufacturing environment. In some cases, it is presented by a single computer controlling a particular device, while in other deployments PLCs can be linked to and managed from a number of server machines running SCADA and EMI software.
People interact with programmable controllers via a human-machine interface (HMI). A PLC HMI allows operators to program the equipment, set alarm reporting, and so on. Simple systems usually come with buttons and lights which allow the system programming, whereas more complex solutions are generally configured with the help of a special programming software installed on a separate computer connected to the PLC over a communication interface.
The components that make a PLC work include sensors, actuation devices, the user interface, and logic control devices. Sensors are input devices that serve for measuring a physical quality, like temperature, and providing the information to the PLC’s CPU; the actuation devices (relays, lights, valves, etc.) are outputs that trigger specific results in response to the input information. The user interface gives the way for operators to interact with the device, and the logic device is responsible for the machine operation control.
The PLC model based on sensors, actuators, operator interface, and logic is met in control systems used in both the discrete and process control space.
PLCs can differ in shapes and sizes. Some small “brick” devices typically come with fixed I/O points; larger rack-mounted modular PLC’s can accept many types of I/O modules with a count of thousands of I/O.
Programmable logic controllers can be utilized in challenging industrial environments. The devices come with immunity to electrical noise, resistance to vibration and impact, and extended temperature ranges. The PLC control software is usually stored in non-volatile memory.
If a controller needs to communicate data with other PLCs or a supervisory control and data acquisition system (SCADA), it connects to the required machine over a communication port. Most PLC models use RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, or Ethernet interfaces.
To access and configure PLCs, operators use serial ports present in the systems by default. Also, the control devices offer at least one PLC Ethernet interface through which they can connect to the network and the outside systems.
So, if it’s required to program or operate a remote PLC, you will need to virtualize the device with the help of a dedicated solution. That’s where Serial Port Virtualization Technology will come in handy.
Serial Port Virtualization Technology is proven to be one of the most efficient network solutions for PLC remote access. Once you integrate the technology into the PLC (HMI) software and hardware, the solution makes the controller accessible over the Internet to multiple users.
Thanks to Serial Port Virtualization Technology, you will get the ability to access a remote PLC device as though it were connected directly to your computer. The technology is capable of virtualizing any serial port equipment and redirecting it over any distance. That means you’ll be able to establish a PLC remote connection and operate the machine over the network even if it’s physically located in the other part of the world.
The technology could add remote access capability to the whole industrial control system, as it can be developed and customized for any industry-specific needs.
By integrating the technology into their solutions, the developers of specialized PLC software and hardware significantly improve the functionality of their products. The technology makes it possible to remotely access any serial port device over LAN, Ethernet, or the Internet. In addition, with serial port redirection technology you get: