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Plc's In The Control System Laboratory

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.420.1 - 4.420.5

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Paper Authors

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Terry Martin

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

Session 3532

PLC’s in the Control System Laboratory Terry Martin University of Arkansas


This paper describes how ladder logic, Programmable Logic Controllers, and operator interfaces have been integrated into the analog/digital control systems laboratory at the University of Arkansas. This material is typically not taught to electrical engineering students during their undergraduate education, but has been incorporated here due to demands from the manufacturing industry today. A detailed course outline is presented and discussed. In addition, an experiment will be presented to illustrate the use of this material.

I. Introduction

Sequential control using ladder logic, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s), and operator interfaces is used very heavily in the manufacturing industry today. Typically, electrical engineering students are not taught this material or exposed to this equipment in their undergraduate education. There has been a stigma for years that this topic belongs in technology programs. This stigma comes primarily from the fact that most sequential control systems are maintained and modified by technicians. However, it has been the experience of the author that most sequential control systems using PLC’s, ladder logic, and operator interfaces are initially developed and installed by electrical engineers. Therefore, the author feels that electrical engineering students should have the opportunity to study this topic in their education. It is not being suggested that this material be required for all electrical engineering students, but be available in the curriculum as an elective.

II. Overview of the Laboratory

The prerequisite for the laboratory is the classical controls systems course ELEG 4463 – Control Systems. The description of the course is as follows:

Experimental study of various control systems and components. The use of Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) in the measurement of system parameters, ladder-logic applications, process-control applications, and electromechanical systems.

The class schedule is given below in Figure 1. During Week 1 through Week 4, the structure and operation of a PLC is presented in a class/laboratory setting. The students are setting at a PLC workstation and the instructor is presenting material via overhead projection. As each instruction is presented, the students are able to do small exercises at that time utilizing the instruction to better understand the instruction. Also, during these weeks the students are working on several small homework types of problems outside of the scheduled laboratory time.

Martin, T. (1999, June), Plc's In The Control System Laboratory Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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