Education and PLC Training

According to recent studies, the global demand for anything automated propels the Programmable Logic Controller market. And as we know, any types of automation that are tied with any technology comes to education and training. At present, the industry is concerned with lowering the learning times and minimizing the costs associated with the education and training.

Now, more than ever, there is a need to come up with inventive and fresh solutions. The education and learning in Programmable Logic Controller programming are usually done with the help synoptic kits, real-time software solutions, or didactic kits. Synoptic kits are sets of light bubbles and switches connected to the Programmable Logic Controller inputs and outputs.

With the help of synoptic kits, it is possible to simulate hypothetical systems, where switches mimic sensors and light bubbles the actuators. It is practical and straightforward, with a low-cost solution. On the downside, logic problems are very limited to a few Input/Output points because of the arduousness for the user training in imagining hypothetical systems.

Didactic kits are lowered down industrial systems that can offer the users or trainees practical approaches with sensors, actuators, and real machines. Retrieval and storage, transportation, palletizing, and pick and place are just some examples of typical applications provided by didactic kits.

The presented logic issues are more attractive, but these kits are usually pretty expensive, will require considerable available space in the education and learning facilities (a prevalent issue), and they demand regular attention when it comes to preservation and maintenance. Based on the disadvantages and inconveniences of these learning solutions, the use of real-time simulation software for learning in Programmable Logic Controller programming appeared.

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Real-time simulation software

The concept here is to have a software that was based on visual simulation of an industrial system, controlled in real-time by a Programmable Logic Controller connected to computers. Some solutions use software that emulates a PLC, also known as soft PLC). Majority of this software displays a simple two-dimensional representation of the industrial system.

Training with this type of software turns out to be very appealing for users, as well as trainers, as they have a maintenance-free tool, and reasonable price, and for users as they can learn in a worry-free and motivating environment where no damage is done to the machines harm to humans.

The two-dimensional visualizations are very interesting to represent industrial systems, although they are pretty insufficient to simulate systems realistically. The three-dimensional software solutions add a third visual dimension to systems. It also allows the users to navigate through industrial scenarios openly, as well as better comprehend its functioning.

When we think of three-dimension, we think of video games with lifelike and realistic environments, that is why it is only natural to use it as a way make everything more appealing in areas other than the entertainment business. Some people call this area “edutainment” – a combination of education and entertainment. What if we combine the technology behind modern video games and the world of automation learning?

Play Automation

Up until now, the three-dimension software solutions of education and learning in Programmable Logic Controller programming usually have a sharp learning curve, complicated to set up, and some technologies used in the development of virtual environments are outdated that makes them look pretty unconvincing.

If you take a look at some of the most recent video games, you will notice some aspects: the realistic and stunning graphics, the correct physical behavior of bodies in scenes, and the immersive sound effects.

Some gaming companies embraced the idea of designing a virtual learning platform for Programmable Logic Controller programming that presents various virtual industrial environments that feature every cutting-edge sound, graphics, and the physics of the latest games while keeping things intuitive and simple for every user.

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PLC interactive training system

The idea is pretty simple, a system or software that can offer five real-world environments that are based on industrial systems that operate on regular PCs. The interface with the automated logic controller is done with digital Universal Serial Bus DAQ boards that allow the system to exchange information with any computerized controller, without any kinds of configurations.

Experts call it an Interactive Training System for automated controllers. The realism is achieved by using real-time three-dimensional graphics, physics and sounds, and instrumental models, that is why users can divide the foundation of the technology into three blocks.

Graphic engines that take care of the sound and graphical presentation; physics engines that help computes the right calculations so that bodies can interact and move with each other; as well as instrumentation engines that will simulate models of actuators and sensors, managing the transmission and functioning of digital signals from the virtual systems into PLCs and vice versa.

Interactive Training System for PLCs was developed by keeping a couple of aspects in mind. It offers the most realistic learning system for industrial setting with behaviors similar to real-world applications, as well as present common automated logic controller programming challenges with growing levels of difficulty when it comes to a rewarding experience for both trainees and trainers.

These five systems available in the PLC Interactive Training System include Automatic Warehouse, Pick and Place, Palletizer, Batching, and Sorting. Realism in the system is achieved using real-time, three-dimensional graphics, physics and sound, and instrumentation models, hence users can divide the foundation of the technology into three blocks.

These graphics engines take care of the sound and graphical presentation; physics engines can compute the necessary calculations for bodies to interact and move with each other’ and instrumentation engines that can simulate models of actuators and sensors, managing the transmitting and functioning the digital signal from the virtual system into the automated logic controller and vice versa.

In a three-dimensional virtual world, users can easily navigate through systems, observing actions from different points of view, and understand the system control requirements a lot better. This three-dimensional sound can accurately reproduce the industrial sonic panorama that every system represents.

Real-time physics

Considered as one of the most exciting features of modern video games, PLC Interactive Training System is the real-time physics. As opposed to older versions of software solutions where the movements of bodies like pneumatic actuators, conveyors, elevators, pallets, or boxes, were previously animated, that is why the interactivity and freedom are nonexistent, with PLC Interactive Training System, every movement and activity are carefully calculated in real-time.

It gives the user the ability to see what is really happening with the system, according to the PLC program. It introduces an extraordinary amount of credibility, total interactivity, and realism. For example, in the Pick and Place system, if users fail to correctly position their boxes where the parts are being placed in, they will see what went wrong. This type of worry-free and real-time validation of PLC algorithms, where users can visually validate the course of the event that they programmed, is proving to be very valuable.

Into the future

AS computer graphics, as well as physics technology continues to grow, believable systems are possible to design and create in the near future, that is why most game developing companies are ready to start and think about the future improvements they can make for PLC Interactive Training Systems.

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