Manufacturing AUTOMATION

White paper details how PLCs and PACs can provide affordable data acquisition

October 8, 2013
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

AutomationDirect has released a new white paper that explains how businesses benefit from the in-depth information that new PLCs and PACs can provide on processes, machines and manufacturing operations. 

In today’s competitive market, companies need detailed and timely information about process variables and production amounts, as well as alarms in real time. In the past, PLCs did not have the capabilities to provide such information, and PACs were not yet widely available. Fortunately, newer PLCs and PACs can perform many data acquisition tasks within the controller, giving businesses a low cost, easier method for advanced, real-time data collection as compared to proprietary or standalone data acquisition systems, explains Jeff Payne, product manager, PLC, I/O and PC-based controls, with AutomationDirect, and author of the white paper, “PLCs and PACs Simplify Data Acquisition.”

In the paper, Payne explains that many of these PLCs and PACs are full-featured systems that can provide both control and data acquisition for existing I/O. Moreover, additional I/O can be added to acquire data from areas that do not require control, only monitoring. Data logging can be triggered by an event within the process or scheduled to occur at regular intervals.

He continues that data transfers from the controller to other systems are typically done by an Ethernet port, which comes standard with most new PLCs and PACs. Popular protocols are also supported, eliminating the need to write complex drivers for the transfer of data from the controller to external systems.


Modern PLCs and PACs perform basic data acquisition as part and parcel of real-time control tasks. This double-duty approach ensures the lowest overall cost, smallest footprint and simplest data acquisition systems.

“Many modern PLCs and PACs now have built-in data acquisition, data storage and networking capabilities — so accessing this critical information can be as simple as connecting a PLC’s Ethernet port to a network, or pulling data from a removable USB mass storage device such as a USB pen drive,” Payne says.

The white paper provides a brief history of data acquisition systems, and highlights the benefits of a PLC- and PAC-based data acquisition approach. To download the white paper, click here.

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