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CHAPTER 4  Architecture of specific PLC controller

4.1 Why OMRON?
4.2 CPM1A PLC controller
4.3 PLC controller input lines
4.4 PLC controller output lines
4.5 How PLC controller works
4.6 CPM1A PLC controller memory map
4.7 Timers and counters


This book could deal with a general overview of some supposed PLC controller. Author has had an opportunity to look over plenty of books published up till now, and this approach is not the most suitable to the purposes of this book in his opinion. Idea of this book is to work through one specific PLC controller where someone can get a real feeling on this subject and its weight. Our desire was to write a book based on whose reading you can earn some money. After all, money is the end goal of every business!

4.1 Why OMRON?

Why not? It is a huge company which has high quality and by our standards inexpensive controllers. Today we can say almost with surety that PLC controllers by manufacturers round the world are excellent devices, and altogether similar. Nevertheless, for specific application we need to know specific information about a PLC controller being used. Therefore, the choice fell on OMRON company and its PLC of micro class CPM1A. Adjective "micro" itself implies the smallest models from the viewpoint of a number of attached lines or possible options. Still, this PLC controller is ideal for the purposes of this book, and that is to introduce a PLC controller philosophy to its readers.

4.2 CPM1A PLC controller

Each PLC is basically a microcontroller system (CPU of PLC controller is based on one of the microcontrollers, and in more recent times on one of the PC processors) with peripherals that can be digital inputs, digital outputs or relays as in our case. However, this is not an "ordinary" microcontroller system. Large teams have worked on it, and a checkup of its function has been performed in real world under all possible circumstances. Software itself is entirely different from assemblers used thus far, such as BASIC or C. This specialized software is called "ladder" (name came about by an association of program's configuration which resembles a ladder, and from the way program is written out).

Specific look of CPM1A PLC controller can be seen in the following picture. On the upper surface, there are 4 LED indicators and a connection port with an RS232 module which is interface to a PC computer. Aside from this, screw terminals and light indicators of activity of each input or output are visible on upper and lower sides. Screw terminals serve to manually connect to a real system. Hookups L1 and L2 serve as supply which is 220V~ in this case. PLC controllers that work on power grid voltage usually have a source of direct supply of 24 VDC for supplying sensors and such (with a CPM1A source of direct supply is found on the bottom left hand side and is represented with two screw terminals. Controller can be mounted to industrial "track" along with other automated elements, but also by a screw to the machine wall or control panel.


Controller is 8cm high and divided vertically into two areas: a lower one with a converter of 220V~ at 24VDC and other voltages needed for running a CPU unit; and, upper area with a CPU and memory, relays and digital inputs.

When you lift the small plastic cover you'll see a connector to which an RS232 module is hooked up for serial interface with a computer. This module is used when programming a PLC controller to change programs or execution follow-up. When installing a PLC it isn't necessary to install this module, but it is recommended because of possible changes in software during operation.

To better inform programmers on PLC controller status, maker has provided for four light indicators in the form of LED's. Beside these indicators, there are status indicators for each individual input and output. These LED's are found by the screw terminals and with their status are showing input or output state. If input/output is active, diode is lit and vice versa.

4.3 PLC controller output lines

Aside from transistor outputs in PNP and NPN connections, PLC can also have relays as outputs. Existence of relays as outputs makes it easier to connect with external devices. Model CPM1A contains exactly these relays as outputs. There a 4 relays whose functional contacts are taken out on a PLC controller housing in the form of screw terminals. In reality this looks as in picture below.

With activation of phototransistor, relay comes under voltage and activates a contact between points A and B. Contacts A and B can in our case be either in connection or interrupted. What state these contacts are in is determined by a CPU through appropriate bits in memory location IR010. One example of relay status is shown in a picture below. A true state of devices attached to these relays is displayed.


4.4 PLC controller input lines

Different sensors, keys, switches and other elements that can change status of a joined bit at PLC input can be hooked up to the PLC controller inputs. In order to realize a change, we need a voltage source to incite an input. The simplest possible input would be a common key. As CPM1A PLC has a source of direct voltage of 24V, the same source can be used to incite input (problem with this source is its maximum current which it can give continually and which in our case amounts to 0.2A). Since inputs to a PLC are not big consumers (unlike some sensor where a stronger external supply must be used) it is possible to take advantage of the existing source of direct supply to incite all six keys.

4.5 How PLC controller works

Basis of a PLC function is continual scanning of a program. Under scanning we mean running through all conditions within a guaranteed period. Scanning process has three basic steps:

Step 1.
Testing input status. First, a PLC checks each of the inputs with intention to see which one of them has status ON or OFF. In other words, it checks whether a sensor, or a switch etc. connected with an input is activated or not. Information that processor thus obtains through this step is stored in memory in order to be used in the following step.

Step 2.
Program execution. Here a PLC executes a program, instruction by instruction. Based on a program and based on the status of that input as obtained in the preceding step, an appropriate action is taken. This reaction can be defined as activation of a certain output, or results can be put off and stored in memory to be retrieved later in the following step.

Step 3.
Checkup and correction of output status. Finally, a PLC checks up output status and adjusts it as needed. Change is performed based on the input status that had been read during the first step, and based on the results of program execution in step two. Following the execution of step 3 PLC returns to the beginning of this cycle and continually repeats these steps. Scanning time is defined by the time needed to perform these three steps, and sometimes it is an important program feature.


4.6 CPM1A PLC controller memory map

By memory map we mean memory structure for a PLC controller. Simply said, certain parts of memory have specific roles. If you look at the picture below, you can see that memory for CPM1A is structured into 16-bit words. A cluster of several such words makes up a region. All the regions make up the memory for a PLC controller.

Unlike microcontroller systems where only some memory locations have had their purpose clearly defined (ex. register that contains counter value), a memory of PLC controller is completely defined, and more importantly almost entire memory is addressable in bits. Addressability in bits means that it is enough to write the address of the memory location and a number of bits after it in order to manipulate with it. In short, that would mean that something like this could be written: "201.7=1" which would clearly indicate a word 201 and its bit 7 which is set to one.

IR region

Memory locations intended for PLC input and output. Some bits are directly connected to PLC controller inputs and outputs (screw terminal). In our case, we have 6 input lines at address IR000. One bit corresponds to each line, so the first line has the address IR000.0, and the sixth IR000.5. When you obtain a signal at the input, this immediately affects the status of a corresponding bit. There are also words with work bits in this region, and these work bits are used in a program as flags or certain conditional bits.

SR region

Special memory region for control bits and flags. It is intended first and foremost for counters and interrupts. For example, SR250 is memory location which contains an adjustable value, adjusted by potentiometer no.0 (in other words, value of this location can be adjusted manually by turning a potentiometer no.0.

TR region

When you move to a subprogram during program execution, all relevant data is stored in this region up to the return from a subprogram.

HR region

It is of great importance to keep certain information even when supply stops. This part of the memory is battery supported, so even when supply has stopped it will keep all data found therein before supply stopped.

AR region

This is one more region with control bits and flags. This region contains information on PLC status, errors, system time, and the like. Like HR region, this one is also battery supported.

LR region

In case of connection with another PLC, this region is used for exchange of data.

Timer and counter region

This region contains timer and counter values. There are 128 values. Since we will consider examples with timers and counters, we will discus this region more later on.

DM region

Contains data related to setting up communication with a PC computer, and data on errors.

Each region can be broken down to single words and meanings of its bits. In order to keep the clarity of the book, this part is dealt with in Attachments and we will deal with those regions here whose bits are mostly used for writing.

1. IR and LR bits that are not used for their allocated functions can be used as work bits.
2. The contents of the HR area, LR area, Counter area, and read/write DM area are backed up by a capacitor. At 25 oC, the capacitor will back up memory for 20 days.
3. When accessing a PV, TC numbers are used as word data; when accessing Completing Flags, they are used as bit data.
4. Data in DM6144 to DM6655 cannot be overwritten from the program, but they can be changed from a Peripheral Device

4.7 Timers and counters

Timers and counters are indispensable in PLC programming. Industry has to number its products, determine a needed action in time, etc. Timing functions is very important, and cycle periods are critical in many processes.

There are two types of timers delay-off and delay-on. First is late with turn off and the other runs late in turning on in relation to a signal that activated timers. Example of a delay-off timer would be staircase lighting. Following its activation, it simply turns off after few minutes.

Each timer has a time basis, or more precisely has several timer basis. Typical values are: 1 second, 0.1 second, and 0,01 second. If programmer has entered .1 as time basis and 50 as a number for delay increase, timer will have a delay of 5 seconds (50 x 0.1 second = 5 seconds).

Timers also have to have value SV set in advance. Value set in advance or ahead of time is a number of increments that timer has to calculate before it changes the output status. Values set in advance can be constants or variables. If a variable is used, timer will use a real time value of the variable to determine a delay. This enables delays to vary depending on the conditions during function. Example is a system that has produced two different products, each requiring different timing during process itself. Product A requires a period of 10 seconds, so number 10 would be assigned to the variable. When product B appears, a variable can change value to what is required by product B.

Typically, timers have two inputs. First is timer enable, or conditional input (when this input is activated, timer will start counting). Second input is a reset input. This input has to be in OFF status in order for a timer to be active, or the whole function would be repeated over again. Some PLC models require this input to be low for a timer to be active, other makers require high status (all of them function in the same way basically). However, if reset line changes status, timer erases accumulated value.

With a PLC controller by Omron there are two types of timers: TIM and TIMH. TIM timer measures in increments of 0.1 seconds. It can measure from 0 to 999.9 seconds with precision of 0.1 seconds more or less.

Quick timer (TIMH) measures in increments of 0.01 seconds. Both timers are "delay-on" timers of a lessening-style. They require assignment of a timer number and a set value (SV). When SV runs out, timer output turns on. Numbers of a timing counter refer to specific address in memory and must not be duplicated (same number can not be used for a timer and a counter).


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