Programmable controllers have become the primary automation method for many industries, and applications, providing accurate, reliable, easily-modified control. In addition to discrete and process functions, PLCs have evolved to perform complex tasks such as motion, data logging, web server access and email.
|HMI & Operator Interfaces|
The HMI (Human Machine Interface) provides a textual or graphical view of system conditions and operations, vital information absent with simple pushbutton panels or switch banks. HMIs offer robust monitoring, control, status reporting and many other functions.
|Sensors / Encoders|
Available sensors include rotary encoders for detecting position and speed; sensors for detecting proximity, pressure, temperature, level, flow, current and voltage; and limit switches for detecting states such as presence or end-of-travel limits. With discrete or analog outputs, these sensors can provide data critical to automating any machine or process.
Pneumatic systems are used extensively in industrial automation and are usually powered by compressed air. Pneumatic systems use actuators such as cylinders that are typically controlled via manual, air-pilot, or solenoid valves, and are designed in when they can provide a lower cost, more flexible, or safer alternative to electric actuators.
Even the simplest process should be in compliance with national and international standards, and now it is affordable to get reliability and high performance for maximum machine safety. These certified machine safety components meet equipment and personnel protection needs, including safety switches, safety light curtains and safety relays.
For controller installations where end devices are located long distances away, field I/O or distributed I/O systems can greatly improve system efficiency and reduce wiring costs. Localizing field terminations at the machine or device being monitored/controlled allows for easier installations/modifications, shorter wire runs, and faster troubleshooting.
Communication is a vital component of any modern control system application. Take advantage of that capability with low-priced, highly-reliable communication products such as secure VPN routers, managed/unmanaged Ethernet switches, media converters and Ethernet cables. Serial converters and gateways complete links to simpler systems that may already be in place.
Electrical drives control the speed, torque and direction of a downstream device, most typically a motor. Variable frequency drives (VFD) provide speed control for AC motors such as those in conveyors, fans, pumps and shop tools. DC drives provide variable speed control for DC motors, ideal for applications requiring low speed control, torque and power.
Motion control typically refers to systems with accurate position/velocity/torque capabilities operating in either open or closed loop mode. Open loop stepping drives send motion commands to stepper motors, but receive no information about the result. Closed loop servo systems have feedback devices at the motor shaft to verify or adjust the resulting motion.
For every motor, some form of electrical control is required, from simple ON/OFF to more complex variable speed applications. Motor control devices encompass simple manual controllers, motor contactors and starters, drives and soft starters.
|Power Products (Electrical)|
Electrical power products provide safe and efficient power services for industrial and commercial use, and include power transformers, DC power supplies and converters, power distribution blocks, wiring devices, power entry modules, power line filters, and panel interface connectors.
|Process Control & Measurement|
Process measurement and control implies continuously changing variable data and/or control methods in an industrial process. Different from discrete (ON/OFF) states, numeric values over a set range are sensed or transmitted in continuous (flow production) or batch (a set quantity or output) processing. Flow, level and temperature are common process variables.
|Relays / Timers|
Relays have been the traditional building blocks of control since the 1950s. Still in wide use for simple control or power conversion, styles include electro-mechanical general or special purpose relays such as high power or hazardous location styles, as well as solid-state relays.
|Circuit Protection / Fuses / Disconnects|
Circuit protection is a critical part of any industrial or commercial installation, to meet national codes and protect equipment and processes from excess energy that could cause damage or safety issues. An extensive selection of circuit breakers, supplementary protectors, fuses and holders, and disconnect switches is available, many complying with UL 98, UL 508, and UL 489 standards.
|Pushbuttons / Switches / Indicators|
Pilot devices are an integral part of most automated processes, from simple pushbuttons and indicating lights, to selector switches, foot switches, and visual/audible signal devices. A wide selection of 22mm and 30mm panel-mount devices is available; hazardous location control stations meet environmental listings; signal devices offer a variety of mounting options.
Stack lights offer modular stackable components that provide illuminated and audible status indication for machines, systems and processes. Also known as signal towers, components or preassembled units are available in a variety of colors, with incandescent, LED or Xenon lighting, audible alarm choices, and flashing or permanent lighting.
Terminal blocks facilitate the connection of panel-mounted electronic components to device power and field wiring. A variety of modular terminal blocks, power distribution blocks, multi-port junction blocks and pre-wired connection cables and modules are available to make quick, clean, safe and efficient installations.
Wiring solutions supply the electrical connections needed to build, upgrade or maintain electrical panels/enclosures and industrial systems. Available products include wire, cable, cable glands, conduit, wire duct, cable ties, electrical plugs and receptacles, as well as pre-made cables and wiring components.
AutomationDirect offers a wide variety of bulk cable, as well as specific-use cables that are connectorized at both ends, and pigtail cables which have an appropriate connector on one end and loose wires on the other for discrete termination.
Industrial flat panel LCD monitors provide reliable operations monitoring in harsh locations or factory settings. These monitors are built tough to handle the grueling conditions of an industrial environment and are certified for hazardous duty.
Software packages designed to work hand-in-hand with control products are available, including PLC programming software, HMI/SCADA software, OPC server software, PC based control software, and servo/drive configuration software. Many are available for free download or can be purchased on a CD.