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Development Of A Virtual Production Machine For A Plc Laboratory

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.219.1 - 5.219.8



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Paper Authors

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James Rehg

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Jamie Rowe

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Donald Lambing

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1620

Development of a Virtual Production Machine for a PLC Laboratory

Don Lambing, James A. Rehg, Jamie Rowe Cambria Systems Inc./Penn State University Altoona College/ABB Robotics Inc.


The programmable logic controller (PLC) as become the de facto standard for control of production machines, work cells, and flexible manufacturing systems. As a result, colleges and universities have added PLC systems in manufacturing and automation laboratories to teach machine control using PLCs. In most implementations the laboratory has multiple student stations, each equipped with a PLC system and computer for programming. This paper addresses a critical component, the target manufacturing system, which is often missing in the integration of PLCs into the automation laboratory. The laboratory exercises associated with the PLC laboratory component usually start with projects that introduce students to the PLC operating system, input/output modules, electrical interface, and the computer based programming language to create ladder logic. These exercises are followed by a series of experiments that cover how to use the PLC ladder elements, such as inputs, outputs, timers, and counters, and the PLC program ladder structure. Up to this point the PLC is usually interfaced to a set of lights and switches in order to display outputs and provide input conditions. The most important part of PLC programming, applying the PLC to the control of an industrial machine or system, is not an option at many institutions for the following reasons: replicating manufacturing systems for each PLC station is too costly; the systems have too large a footprint for the space available; or the number of different types of systems required limits their use. This paper describes a system in use at Penn State Altoona that supports the development of machine control programs at eight PLC student stations and the testing of the solutions at a single common bench where a variety of manufacturing systems can be introduced. The use of a common manufacturing system would not be an adequate solution to the problem without the ability to develop the machine control program at each PLC station on a virtual manufacturing machine. Wonderware software, a human machine interface software package with a broad industrial base, is used to simulate the manufacturing machine and provide students with a virtual model of the machine in order to measure the success of their control programs. After the machine program is developed and tested on the virtual manufacturing machine at the PLC student station, the program is passed over a network to a PLC on a common bench with the

Rehg, J., & Rowe, J., & Lambing, D. (2000, June), Development Of A Virtual Production Machine For A Plc Laboratory Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8294

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