Programming An Airport Grade Conveyor system

Learning PLC Programming For Industrial Applications

This page briefly covers a PLC programming project, a part of the Industrial Robotics module from college.

The project was to create and test a PLC based box sorting system in which a conveyer will direct a box to a different destination based on box parameters.

 

Once a viable solution was produced and verified, the code was to be uploaded onto a  pre-built conveyor system consisting of airport grade parts used often in industry.

This was first done through software, using both an industrial  Ladder Logic-based language and that of a more simple flowchart-based language.  After the system was verified through software, the program was to then be uploaded and tested on a PLC with a simple prototyping I/O board, consisting of 8 switches and 8 LEDs.

This setup was used previously on the course within assignments. For example, these would involve producing certain expected outputs based on provided inputs or create various LED sequences.

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Sadly I do not have much footage from my college-based projects, as a lot of that content was lost. For this reason, I only have limited footage from this time, mainly from partial backups and old social media posts.

Otherwise, I would have broken down and annotated the code and tests performed.

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I found the Ladder Logic method of programming simple to learn but annoying to use, being formatted different from most other programming methods used on the course. Though I did see its usefulness when describing a circuit on the system.

After the code was verified on this method, we had a safety brief involving the conveyer and how to safely work around it.

After that, it was time to test it on the conveyor system and behold it worked the first time!

I found this project extremely interesting but also extremely limiting. I wish I had more involvement in the design and production fo the system. As well as this, there was a lot of sensors available to be used, but as the assignment demanded the system to be more timing oriented, most of the system was not used. 

In summary, a lot was learned but the solution produced seemed too simplistic where the produced code didn't use the full effect of the actuators and sensors and resulted in more pre-produced commands for the components used. 

Using what was learned at the ABB Robotics training day and my visits to the BMW and Vauxhall factories, I would also like to expend the system to implement a pick and place robot/robots to also direct the items on the convayer.