Why you should replace traditional PLCs with Open Source Industrial PCs
Tuong Anh Ens
Open Source Industrial PCs
Moving functionality from a traditional PLC to an Open Source Industrial PC can significantly decrease implementation time and direct purchase costs. This shift can increase the quality, stability, and maintainability of an automation system and provide a significant competitive advantage to robotics integrators interested in leveraging new technology to do more with less effort.
PLCs Simplified the System Landscape
It's no secret that the PLC changed the industrial automation industry, offering the ability to distribute functionality among various relays. PLCs provided the simplicity of customizing automation workflows. Specifically, the ability to quickly change automation routines via software updates rather than physically rewiring relays. As we all know, this led to the widespread adoption of the PLC.
Depending on your specific environment, PLC communication can quickly become a difficult task to implement and manage. Since PLCs communicate over a vast number of protocols, Robotic integrators typically use these protocols for different configuration settings for each device. This leads to situations where different protocols exist between devices that need to communicate with each other. When devices do not use the same protocol, a hardware interface acts as a bridge between devices and translates between protocols.
PLCs are purpose-built tools that solve much of the problems that existed with relays. While automation programs can be customized significantly faster and efficiently, the installation, error handling, and maintenance for PLCs are complicated and require specialists. Testing can be incredibly costly due to the limited reporting available from PLCs. These limitations increase the effort needed for each code change and slow down the development process. Another major limitation is the lack of automated testing and version control infrastructure: Updates to PLC code can be cumbersome to propagate across installations without a method of tracking which version is deployed where.
An Open Source Industrial PC can handle all the complex processing and communication that a traditional PLC platform offers.
Open Source Industrial PCs
An Open Source Industrial PC can handle all the complex processing and communication that a traditional PLC platform offers. In contrast to traditional PLCs, which use proprietary software, Open Source Industrial PCs use open source software that gives your PLCs the flexibility to be customized to best suit your company's needs. For example, an Open Source Industrial PC can use the same technology for your HMI as is used for the best mobile apps and websites. Cloud integration and IIoT applications become immediately accessible by using the same OS as most cloud servers. The hardware can also be customized to only pay for what you need and upgrade when needed.
Simpler is the Best Approach
As automation projects become increasingly complex, traditional PLCs have limitations that can be solved using edge devices. The solution to overwhelming complexity is to simplify the system. How can you offload your PLC functionality to an Open Source Industrial PC? At Go West Robotics, we leverage our experience from various integrators, processes, and system landscapes to identify and implement changes that will create the most cost-efficient solution for your team.
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