The Productivity3000 is a Programmable Automation Controller (PAC) offered by AutomationDirect.com. This video explains the similarities and differences between a PAC and a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). Learn why we classified the Productivity3000 as a PAC and why it has a small learning curve when transitioning from a PLC.
What is a PAC? What is a PLC? Will PLC's be replaced with other controllers?
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If you're watching this video then there’s a good chance you're familiar with programmable logic controllers or PLCs for short. Most likely you've heard that PACs are replacing PLCs and now you’d like to know more about a PAC and how it differs when compared to a PLC. Well, follow along and we'll fill you in on the differences and similarities of PACs vs. PLCs. And hopefully get you interested in AutomationDirect’s Productivity3000 PAC for your next application. Let's start with the definition of a PAC. A Programmable Automation Controller is a compact controller that combines the features and capabilities of a PC-based control system with that of a typical programmable logic controller or a PLC. In the past, if an automation application required a large amount of computing power, data handling, and communications, a PC-based control system would be used in place of a PLC. Okay, that would work in most cases but why hasn’t PC-based control taken over in industrial automation. Well, The PLC has something the PC-based control system doesn’t have. The PLC evolved into being industralized and rugged with a modular footprint, a wide range of CPU capabilities, a wide variety of I/O types, and uses ladder logic programming software that is similar between manufacturers. In other words, PLCs in general do not have the computing power of a PC and PCs typically don't have the versatility and ruggedness of a PLC. Somewhere in this comparison it became apparent ideally it would be great to have the best of both worlds and the term programmable automation controller or PAC started to be used amongst various parties. Although, the term PAC has been used as far back as nineteen-eighty, some manufacturers claimed that the required components to produce a PACs features and function have not been available for automation controls until the year two thousand two. Well, we believe the use of the term PAC is more in line with the mythology versus a list of functionality for hardware and software requirements. Based on this view we classify our Productivity3000 as a PAC. Before we get into details about PACs lets examine where the PLC stands in today's control applications. Some folks in the industry have stated that PLCs are going to be extinct soon and will disappear. Well, we beg to differ - as do most experts and end-users in the automation industry. The PLC has a nitch that has been filled since the first PLC was created by Bedford and Associates in nineteen sixty eight. PLCs continue to shrink in physical size, expand their capabilities, and become easier to use. While at the same time becoming less expensive. We believe that they'll be numerous applications that PLCs will meet for many years to come. But, there's definitely a need for the enhancements that PAC can offer. In the past, a larger footprint PLC would need to be specified to obtain more memory or faster scan times. The same held true if large amounts of I/O needed to be handled. Along with these requirements came a bigger price tag. As we just mentioned, PLCs have become smaller and now even small brick PLCs have the same capabilities that previous larger expandable PLCs once had. For example, our newer brick PLC the DL06, shown here, has similar CPU specifications when compared to our larger D4-440 PLC shown here. The 440, as you can see, has a much larger physical platform to achieve similar I/O counts… You’ll spend roughly four times more for the D-440 PLC than you would for the DL06 PLC. It just goes to show, newer design PLC hardware has allowed manufacturers to offer more bang for the buck. So, we can easily say PLCs are not losing a foothold. In fact, they’re fitting into more and more newer applications every day. Here at AutomationDirect, we see PLCs being used on everything from traffic counters, HVAC control, elevator control, automobile and bus applications, boats and marine applications, to complex applications like production lines, material handling, complex machine control, and even medical equipment. Well, a PAC can do all of what a PLC can and then some. Basically, the power of an industrial PC is now being offered in the hardware package of a PLC. I think we can easily say that the PLC was evolving into what most now describe as a PAC. And was almost there even before the term PAC became popular. Most PACs that have come onto the market in the last few years still use ladder logic for programming, and they function like a PLC, but generally they include more features, options, and computing power. So don't let the new technology scare you. The Productivity3000 uses state-of-the-art hardware that accommodates a wide range of applications, advanced programming that simplifies complex time intensive tasks, and includes incredible communication capability. There are seven different communications ports on the P3000 CPU. Yes, seven! So what makes the Productivity3000 a PAC? Well, besides the powerful CPU, the great hardware, the enhanced features software, huge I/O expansion and capacity, no power budgeting, and built-in help, we say that the P3000 is a PAC because it has the ability to do both discreet and process control and can do remote monitoring. In more detail, how about memory requirements that surpassed traditional PLC memory, extensive use of tag database with an easy-to-use tag name database utility, data-logging to USB devices, easy connection to MS Access, SQL or ODBC databases by the way of enterprise connectivity through our DataWorx P3K software, built-in PID tuning, bit and word histograms, ladder logic and function block programming, time saving fill in the blank instructions, full feature calculator type math instruction, seamless and easy to integrate HMI using a C-more Touch Panel, and a task manager to help organize program code and execute it for maximum speed and efficiency. I don't think anyone wants to reinvent the automation industry and change everything from how control engineers program ladder logic, to how maintenance technicians troubleshoot the equipment, and processes that are well adapted to the use of PLCs. That is why the AutomationDirect Productivity3000 PAC isn’t so much a learning curve for the challenge of learning a completely new type of controller. It's like having a new building block, but with a lot more power. Or sort of like taking the ten horsepower engine off of your lawnmowever and stuffing a small block V8 on it. Like this one! We hope we've been able to show you some of the differences between a PAC and a PLC. If we’ve peaked your interest and you’d like to learn more please follow along to the rest of the Productivity3000 videos. We can't wait to show you all the available options and features our engineers have created and continue to create in the development of our Productivity3000. Well, thanks for watching. See you soon.