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#15509 - 10/19/02 05:27 PM PLC's
Looee Offline

Registered: 02/12/02
Posts: 13
Loc: Willmar, MN, 56201
I'm a second year electrician student and I was wondering what actual electricians thought about PLC stuff. Pretty soon I have to choose a couple electives to finish out my classes for the last semester and I need to pick between a couple things. I can either pick a PLC class or a class on xformers and fire alarms and another on small business. The PLC is a 4 credit and the others are 2 credits each. It really comes down to PLC's or the Xformer and fire alarm class, I can't pick both. Right now I'm leaning toward the PLC class, but I'm not really sure if that would be a wise decision. Any ideas would be a lot of help for me.


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#15510 - 10/19/02 05:39 PM Re: PLC's
go-go Offline

Registered: 08/08/02
Posts: 42
Loc: Fla.
that would depend on what type of work you plan to pursue. if you are not going into industrial work take the xformer class because you will never see a plc.

#15511 - 10/19/02 07:13 PM Re: PLC's
Trumpy Offline


Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8532
Loc: SI,New Zealand
Personally, I would go for the PLC course, as a good grounding in these is essential,
as PLC-based equipment is becoming more
prolific and will continue to do so,in the years to come,this type of training for any
electrical persons will pay off,in the end.
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

#15512 - 10/20/02 03:18 AM Re: PLC's
maintenanceguy Offline

Registered: 12/02/01
Posts: 303
Loc: Southern NJ, USA
If you've got a handle on electrical principles, fire alarms will be relatively easy to figure out later. Read the applicable sections of the NFPA on you're own and you'll be fine there. But PLC's are not something you can figure out intuitively. And if the course gets into all the sorts of sensors and actuators that go along with PLC's, you'll be learnig valuable controls stuff too.

I vote PLC's

#15513 - 10/20/02 05:20 AM Re: PLC's
electric-ed Offline

Registered: 07/08/02
Posts: 184
Loc: Canada
I would only recommend PLC or Fire Alarm courses if you have completed all of the basic electrical and electronic areas of the program first.

Most modern addressable fire alarm systems are actually based on PLC technology, so I would recommend Basics first, then PLCs, and then Fire Alarms.


#15514 - 10/20/02 04:36 PM Re: PLC's
Looee Offline

Registered: 02/12/02
Posts: 13
Loc: Willmar, MN, 56201
Another thing that I know I shouldn't take into consideration but I still think about are the grades that I will get. I'm pretty sure that if I take the fire alarm and xformer class I will get an A in it, but the PLC class is taught by the electronics teacher and not the electrician teacher, so I'm not sure what it will be like.

#15515 - 10/20/02 04:59 PM Re: PLC's
dugmaze Offline

Registered: 12/18/00
Posts: 46
Loc: St. Louis
I'm an electrician in a heavy industrial enviroment and I can tell you that someday every single piece of equipment will have some sort of PLC or programmable type component on it. I'm starting to see small conveyors with no more than three inputs and one output on them. This seems to be overkill but it is also job security!
My company continually tries to lay us off but because of our abilities and knowledge they can't. They have cut us back so far that sometimes they pay people to stand around and wait on us. It sounds silly but what do you expect when your maintenance foreman never worked in maintenance.
The point I'm trying to make is, make sure your training is not only self-gratifying but also keeps you employed. I find PLC's to be a major part of being an industrial electrician and a major part of keeping me employed.

[This message has been edited by DUGMAZE (edited 10-20-2002).]

#15516 - 10/20/02 09:18 PM Re: PLC's
Bjarney Offline

Registered: 04/10/02
Posts: 2561
Loc: West-Southern Inner-Northeast ...
Remember that PLC control functions support "the process" on the factory floor. The ability for controllers to have comm ports to be remotely polled, and functions for timing/sequencing changed externally {and quickly} is a big factor in justifying their existence where cruder, mere hardwired electrical components might easily suffice and take a smaller bite out of the maintenance budget.

Some years back I did electrical training at a cutting-edge plant that had sole-sourced A-B 5/25-series systems when they were the first being offered with an ethernet interface. The firm paid a mint for the equipment and the programming, but thought that the potential realtime production-reporting capabilities would be the norm in the very near future.

VFDs and even plain-vanilla FVNR starters stock with hardened comm ports are becoming old news.

Several years ago I did some training in a very elegant old plant with only about a dozen PLCs, but each PLC cabinet had a piece of electrical tape on its stainless-steel door marked with its dotted-quad {IP} address. At that point, it was the plant lead electrician’s “crazy” idea that often went on the rear burner during most of an eight-hour shift. Ethernet connectivity and IP addresses for PLCs were though a silly novelty by many a dozen years ago.

It’s been “full steam ahead” from there. NEMA-4X Cat-V UTP [soon gigabit fiber] connectors would have been thought a completely ridiculous idea at that point.

Don't loose sight of the "60Hz side" of the picture. Do not forget that in most all cases electrical systems are there to support a mechanical process, and that microprocessors and just about everything else with 5-volt logic is there to support electromechanical components.

Plant machinery seems to be increasingly viewed by some as an incidental peripheral to the front-office {or corporate HQ half a continent over} datacomm/IT system. But electricians still need to know what safe actions to practice if a 4160V feeder trip isolates a section of the plant, regardless of the demands of some snot-nosed production administrator to “get it all moving yesterday.”

I wonder, in the whole scheme of things, if PCS phones really increase production and profits.

#15517 - 10/22/02 09:37 PM Re: PLC's
spkjpr Offline

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 226
Loc: Sedalia,MO, USA
Being an industrial electrician and the only one on my shift who can troubleshoot with a PLC I say go for the PLC class, useful and they are fun to program and use.


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