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Plc's University Course Material Or Industrial Training Material?

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.782.1 - 6.782.5

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Don Zeller

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

Session 1547

PLC Systems - University Course Material or Industrial Training Material ?

Don Zeller

Assistant Professor, Engineering Technology Department, Fenn College of Engineering, Cleveland State University

Introduction In the late 1960’s, a new electronic device made its debut, at the request of the automotive industry. It was called a programmable logic controller (PLC) and its function was to replace an existing system of machine control logic. The existing system was based on an electro- mechanical device called a relay and the machine control logic was implemented by wiring the coils and contacts of these relays. This existing machine control logic system had served industry well for many decades. However, the two main aspects of this existing system— “mechanical” and “wired logic”---made maintenance and design changes costly to manufacturers, especially the automotive industry, where yearly model changes required machine control logic changes and mass production required around the clock production operations. With the growth of integrated circuits and the advent of the microprocessor, it was possible to implement machine control logic in solid state memory and to make design changes by simple computer programming entries.

Over the next 20 years, PLCs found their way into all industries: automotive, metals, rubber, plastics, chemical, food, beverage, pharmaceutical, etc. The market for PLCs grew from a volume of $80 million in 1978 to $1 billion per year in 1990. ……PLCs are also used extensively in building energy and security control systems.1 Along the way, more and more capabilities were added to PLC’s and they soon appeared in all shapes and forms, large and small, controlling any and all machine and process operations. PLCs have been the “workhorse” of industrial control systems for the past 25 years and continue to be an integral part of all new, state of the art, evolving control schemes.

Question However, since the PLC could be considered as simply another piece of electronic equipment, a question arises. Where should the teaching (and learning) about how the PLC works and how to apply the PLC be conducted? Should it be accomplished through customer training by the PLC system supplier and/or systems integrator or through the end user’s own training department—as is usually the case with new system installations? Or should this teaching and learning be implemented through a formal course as part of a university or college curriculum in engineering or engineering technology?

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society of Engineering Education

Zeller, D. (2001, June), Plc's University Course Material Or Industrial Training Material? Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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