What is a plc programmer?
If you are asking what is a PLC programmer, then it is best to insure that you know “What is a PLC” first. The video below explains what a PLC is, in the most simple terms for the layperson to understand. Be it that layperson is a high school student, all the way up to a senior executive wanting to know what are PLCs that control all their facilities.
What is a PLC Programmer?
A PLC programmer can be anyone from the industrial maintenance person to an industrial engineer. With the technological evolution of the PLC to a PAC, even more occupations are adding ‘PLC programmer” to their job description, like IT personnel and even computer programmers.
Note, if you found this post via search engines, you may have been looking for “What is a PLC programmer” in the physical device since, not the occupational title of PLC programmer. The PLC programmer device was a hand held interface use to program PLCs, before the industry evolved to using computers to program PLCs. (See on pictures below.)
Back to “What is a PLC programmer ?”
… in the occupational sense. Many believe they can become a PLC programmer with just one PLC simulation software, or taking just one online PLC course, or just going through a PLC video course, etc As pointed out very clearly by http://PLC-Training.org , those who think just one course or ‘figuring it out’ on their own will make them a safe and reliable PLC programmer, are mistaking. More importantly, without proper PLC training that includes safety, reliability and best practices, they are at greater risk to damage man or machine, costing thousands or millions.
Learning how to program PLCs safely, reliably and using best practices takes years of training, continuous training each year as technology evolves, and studying many real world programs already out of the start up phase. If a PLC programmer does not get advanced PLC training, PLC training from multiple sources and study PLC programs from multiple sources, they would be greatly limited and less effective at being a PLC programmer. Yes with proper PLC Training an individual can safely modify existing programs, upload and download and troubleshoot complex equipment using the PLC/PAC, but they are not a PLC programmer who can design and write PLC programs for brand new PLC controlled systems from scratch. A masters in PLC programming would require in addition to engineering degree …
- Industrial electrical training course
- Best practices PLC training core foundation
- PLC scholastic education
- PLC troubleshooting training
- Hands on experience with 2 or more PLC brands
- PLC programming best practices (from multiple sources)
- Studying many commissioned PLC programs
- PLC communications
- PAC training
- More advance topics like PID, computer programming languages, SQL, OPC, HMI, SCADA training, etc.
The above is in addition to the standard theory and scholastic knowledge an electrical engineering degree that colleges provide. Even if you add these most needed subjects to your 4th year…
- Linear Models
- Control-oriented Models for System Design
- Block Diagram Models
- PID Design
- PID Tuning
Time Domain Performance Specifications
- Lead, Lag, Lead-lag Compensation
- Integrator Windup
- Frequency Domain Analysis
- Specification and Requirements Analysis of Control Systems
- A/D Conversion and Quantization
- Shannon-Nyquist Sampling Theorem
- Characteristics of Sensors and Actuators
- PLC, SCADA or other Industrial System Programming
- Discrete-time Systems
- Networks and Distributed Control
- MATLAB TM, Simulink TM and LabVIEW TM
… and more less needed subjects in general, but may be specific to your industry.
Many current ‘PLC programmers’ are self-taught with degrees from other fields. So they may be weak in formal software engineering training, or weak in or weak in system design and architecture. The bottom line is there is a huge difference between one who can program PLCs, and a master PLC programer (controls engineer). Just as there is a big difference between modifying an existing PLC program, and designing an automation control system.