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Preventing PLCs from Tripping and Resetting

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Greater industrial automation offers significant productivity benefits for manufacturers, and will form a core aspect of the rollout of Industry 4.0. The global market for industrial automation was estimated at $200 billion in 2021, and is expected to grow to $297 billion over the next five years. Manufacturers are increasingly harnessing increased automation to increase production capacity and reduce costs through automating their production processes.

Fixed automation, also known as hard automation, is typically used for large production lines with little to no variance, such as assembly lines and chemical manufacturing. Programmable automation, instead, relies on a series of instructions that a system must be able to read, interpret and execute. A large proportion of programmable automation relies on Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) to automate a process, function or entire production line.

PLCs provide a wide range of functions, including monitoring, recording and reporting data in real time, automatically starting or stopping processes, or automatically generating warnings in the case of a machine malfunction. By drawing data from connected sensors and input devices, PLCs make logic-based decisions to control your automated processes.

PLCs are designed to run continuously, typically with a rugged design to ensure they continue to operate even in harsh industrial environments. However, when these robust control systems do fail, they can cause production lines or processes to shut down entirely. Downtime is extremely costly for any manufacturer, and can also impact on safety functions.

Around 80% of all PLC failures are as a result of either module failure or a disruption to power supply. While some of these issues can be avoided with a comprehensive planned maintenance schedule, power disruptions to your site, even momentary, are difficult to predict and can result in significant downtime as PLCs are taken offline. Even a relatively minor change in voltage could can trip sensitive electrical equipment and quickly add up to substantial losses in scrappage or reduced productivity.

PLC-based automation is entirely reliant on an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) at all times. If power from the National Grid is interrupted, disruption to PLCs is not limited to just downtime as numerous processes have to be restarted and production lines may require clearing of spoiled material. An interruption also risks a PLCs memory being lost, costing you valuable process data or, at worst, the loss of the operational program itself. In short, while PLCs provide significant productivity boosts for manufacturers, they also risk making a minor power disruption event a prolonged period of downtime.

While many manufacturers already employ UPS to protect their critical systems, for PLCs is it vital that your backup power solution is able to provide seamless emergency power across your whole site. Powerstar’s innovative UPS solutions provide protection to your entire site, ensuring that not just your production lines but all of your infrastructure, including all-important PLCs, are protected in the case of power disruption and can continue to operate without interruption.

BESS not only replaces existing UPS, but offers a range of additional benefits that offers improvements on other aspects of your energy management strategy. Rather than kicking in only when your site experiences power disruption, a BESS works continuously, managing power flows and enhancing energy efficiency by using power more intelligently across your site.

Battery storage also ensures that any on-site generation delivers an enhanced return on investment by allowing excess generated power to be stored, rather than sold back to the grid at a reduced price. For sites looking to implement high demand technologies such as rapid EV charging, battery storage can be used to provide the power required rather than putting additional strain on your grid connection.

To find out more about protecting your site’s productivity and access to reliable power, speak to our team here. 

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