Fischertechnik and PLC Trainers
Just an update on my PLC Trainer project. These are two of the Allen-Bradley Micrologix 1400 Trainers along with the Fischertechnik models I mentioned in my last post. The program and documentation for the Color Sorter, shown at left, is completed. I am still working on the program for the High Bay Warehouse, shown at right.
I received my first order for a trainer and Fischertechnik model, the High Bay Warehouse. The Light Blue enclosure on the left is the finished trainer, which will be delivered in a few weeks along with the model. The manual for the model is pretty much completed also with exercises that step a programmer through the procedure of writing a full program. The beginning part discusses System Functions, Auto, Manual and Autocycle. All of the beginning parts of the program for all trainers is the same. It then instructs the programmer in setting up the inputs and outputs, making them work together with permissives in their own routines. For all models there is an analysis section where the programmer discovers physical parts of the models such as numbers returned by the color sensor in the Color Sorter, pulses versus distance on the conveyor, and encoder positions for the horizontal and vertical axes on the Warehouse model. This information is then used in writing the Auto Sequence(s) and Faults.
I am also working on the PLC Hardware and Programming final edition with Hardware (Allen-Bradley and Siemens) and the advanced topics I mentioned earlier this year. Because students (and instructors) will need the information in the advanced section, I have been working on the topics in a separate document tentatively titled “The Art of Programming”. Most of the topics in the PLC tab of this blog, including System, Inputs, Outputs, Auto Sequencing and Faults are included in this document.
I wrote most of the above referenced posts over five years ago, so they are different than this site’s articles, but they still use the generic approach I use here. The “Art of Programming” document and the appropriate hardware section for the PLC platform purchased will be included with orders, along with the trainer and Fischertechnik manuals and both incomplete and completed PLC programs.
A bit more about Fischertechnik: As some of you may know if you follow this blog, I spent a lot of time looking for lower cost options than some of the trainers and models I use for my classes.
While these trainers and the conveyor are awesome and certainly do the job, they are very expensive. I have discovered over the last few years that students do like the hands-on approach of using moving equipment, but the conveyor and trainers shown above are over $4000 each! Hence my search for e less expensive alternative.
As I mentioned in my previous posts on this subject, the trainers have very few components, and therefore take less labor to build. I also buy the Fischertechnik models from the US representative at a discount and am able to pass the savings along to the user. I can sell the models at list price this way if an enterprising programmer wishes to mate it up with their own trainer or build it as a kit.
When I complete all of the documentation and programs for these models I intend to sell them on my business website. If I can interest colleges and plants in my training programs, I think this will evolve into something beyond what current classes have to offer.