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Programmable Automation Controller: A New Class of Systems Have Emerged
Dedham, Massachusetts; The PLC is very much alive and well, with a long life ahead. However, this industrial workhorse has morphed in numerous ways to expand its appeal. Automation suppliers continue to improve the PLC to serve market opportunities and specific user needs. The additional functionality has allowed a new class of system to emerge. Programmable Automation Controllers (PAC) offer open industry standards, extended domain functionality, a common development platform, and advanced capabilities. The PAC concept will play a major role in plant and factory automation, today and in the future. ARC Advisory Group (www.arcweb.com) has coined this new term to help users define their application needs and manufacturers to more clearly communicate the capabilities of their products.
How Will PACs Affect the Market? PACs are creating additional opportunities, rather than displacing traditional configurations. The integrated, common development environment lowers project development and implementation costs. This will expand the number of financially justifiable projects and the available market opportunities. Use of PACs will continue to shift the emphasis toward open communication standards and software integration, with less focus on the hardware. Users will become more focused on the total system performance rather than the hardware selection. PACs will address user concerns as to how to better monitor and control the real-world devices that are connected to the hardware. This keeps the suppliers of PACs thinking more about system optimization and performance and less about market differentiators at the hardware and component level.
Today, manufacturers are increasingly turning to suppliers for services ranging from consulting to full turn-key projects. Users are refocusing their energies on core competencies and relegating their automation and control integration functions to the automation providers. This creates a greater need for service and support offerings that will complement and utilize the multi-functional capabilities of PACs. An example of this could be Web-based monitoring and maintenance through a PAC for logic control, position control, cam-positioning, and two-axis motion control. Operators can access the supplier Web site to allow technicians to diagnose and trouble-shoot problems directly from the plant floor.
ARC Advisory Group provides strategic planning and technology assessment services to leading manufacturing companies, utilities, and global logistics providers, as well as to software and solution suppliers world-wide. From Global 1000 companies to small start-up firms, ARC has the strategic knowledge needed to succeed in today’s technology driven economy. Further information can be obtained from ARC, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, Web ARCweb.com.
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