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Automation Panel or PLC: Which One is Better for Your Company?

Automation Panel or PLC: Which One is Better for Your Company?

Some of the major facets that today’s companies want from automated machines is the ease of operation and control. Machine automation is meant to take the burden of redundant tasks off of the minds of workers, but no matter how sophisticated the technology becomes, workers still need to maintain a measure of control over the machine process.

It’s all about making operation and control as easy and efficient as possible.

Managing control of high production machinery can be complex, which is why programmable logic controllers and automation panels exist. Both of these products make it easier to monitor and control electro-mechanical processes, but which is best for a company like yours?

The Benefits of Automation Panels

Many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have changed their focus from using standard PLCs to more comprehensive automation panels, which are also known as HMI/controller units.

Traditionally, OEM machines employed a programmable logic controller (PLC), or a newer breed of controller referred to as a programmable automation controller (PAC) for control, input/output capabilities (I/O), human machine interface (HMI), and potentially networking equipment including an Ethernet router, all of which require their own processor, electrical installation and connection, software, and general maintenance.

Automation panels combine these major parts into a single product. The benefits of using automation panels can include:

  • Faster installation: since the panel contains all the parts necessary for machine automation, the installation process is streamlined. Only one device, not many, must be installed.
  • Simplified Maintenance: with all components on one panel, general maintenance and managing spare parts is far less complex.
  • Reduced costs: both software development and hardware costs can be reduced with all-in-one panels.
  • Easier Upgrades: when software updates are released, they can be downloaded together, from the same development environment, keeping the system project together.
  • Improved performance: communication time and management is reduced with automation panels since all the components are housed and connected within the same hardware.
  • Better UX: touchscreen panels offer a better user experience is they are intuitive, easy to use, and can withstand the harsh environments of factories and other industrial settings.

The Benefits of Stand Alone PLCs

PLCs have the benefit of standing the test of time. They are reliable devices that can run automated systems with efficiency. One of the main benefits for using a PLC is the traditional familiarity for both the controls designer and the user for both hardware and software. Often PLCs have their own operating systems and development environments for stability and long-term serviceability.

Often Overlooked

Controls engineers often overlook the fact that there are faster, easier to use, more highly customizable control systems that may offer a greater degree of performance and differentiation for their machine designs. Automation panels are filling that place.

We believe that a specialty purpose computer will likely take the place of a general-purpose computer at some point. For example, cell phones and tablets are moving into applications typically reserved by laptop and desktop (general purpose) computers. The mix of feature, function, performance, and price blend to make specialty computers palatable where only general-purpose computers were once considered.

Automation panels are no different; they are specialty devices that are challenging traditional general-purpose PLC and PAC device applications where they fit.

We Can Help You Make the Best Decision

At AMMC, we specialize in working with companies who are looking for automation panels, PLCs, and automation components. We will get to know your business and help you determine which option is best for your machines, your customers, and for you. Get started by contacting us today.