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Old March 7th, 2018, 12:33 PM   #1
Carlo3802
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Beginning path PLC programming

Hi my name is Carlo, Iím new in this forum.

After long time I decided to come back to study or better implement with some certificates my profession. I founded this forum and hopefully guys you can help me in my decision or better give me some clarification.

I was looking into PLC programming/technician. I have an associate degree in engineer of telecommunication and I remember I studied something about this argument with circuit theory, systems theory, ADC/DAC conversion, filters and pretty much my course was based on signals through air or cables. I donít know if my knowledge can help actually.


Shortly what Iím asking to myself now is
1) Is it worth it to get this path?? Are there jobs out there?
2) Is this the future? In the sense that with all the automation is coming in the new era, are the new machine or most of them programmable with this method? Or maybe the programming is going to change in new languages like Java or others
3) What is your best advice from some experts like you to someone like me in the beginning?
4) I founded some class online (cause I have a part-time job now) but I have no idea witch one get it and for how much. For example I founded this one https://www.plctechnician.com/program-costs at George Brown college at 1700$. What you think?? What do you suggest??
5) Most important maybe Where I can start??

I really appreciate any kind of advice whatever they are (like donít do it!! Itís kind of hard for me come back to study at 40 years old but I was thinking to increase the chances to find jobs now and in the future.

Thank you so much in advance
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Old March 7th, 2018, 01:35 PM   #2
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The future in automation is "IEC 61131-3", which is ~5 languages. This includes "Ladder Diagram", which is commonly taught in trade schools in the U.S. Start by searching that on Wikipedia. Also, many posts here with your same question.

Re on-line schools, be careful since there are many that will just take your money for little benefit, i.e. don't get trumped. Unless the school is accredited and offers an accepted certificate, you might do better via self-learning. Most PLC manufacturers offer free tutorial versions and simulators. If more serious, you can buy used hardware fairly cheap on ebay to learn with.
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Old March 7th, 2018, 01:44 PM   #3
kalabdel
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Hello and welcome,

Start by searching the forums and the Web as the qestion has been asked thousands of time.

Only you can decide if it's worth it. My "worth it" decision is based on how stimulating and enjoyable the field is to me as opposed to frustrating and boring. It has nothing to do with money.

Automation is the way of the future and considering how, in my opinion, crappy most equipment are designed there will always be a need for someone to design and even worse piece of equipment and of course greater need to maintain and upgrade them.

PLC is a small part of an automation system and not only is there a need for a programmer to have knowledge of different aspects of automation but it is way more fun to learn other automation disciplines.

As a newbie I can't see an end to learning but I have been in an electro-mechanical industries for over 30 years and things eventually get to be more of the same. Until then I intend to enjoy the challenges and banging my head on hard objects.
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Old March 7th, 2018, 03:07 PM   #4
mk42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlo3802 View Post
1) Is it worth it to get this path?? Are there jobs out there?
2) Is this the future? In the sense that with all the automation is coming in the new era, are the new machine or most of them programmable with this method? Or maybe the programming is going to change in new languages like Java or others
3) What is your best advice from some experts like you to someone like me in the beginning?
4) I founded some class online (cause I have a part-time job now) but I have no idea witch one get it and for how much. For example I founded this one https://www.plctechnician.com/program-costs at George Brown college at 1700$. What you think?? What do you suggest??
5) Most important maybe Where I can start??

1) Are there jobs out there? Definitely. Are they worth it? That's a harder question. Generally speaking, you'll still essentially be a skilled trade as a PLC guy, not a true "white collar" office worker. Your keyboard is your primary tool instead of a wrench or screwdriver. You'll still need the other two as backups often enough. Generally speaking, the jobs will either require lots of travel or long hours, or both. The pay is usually at least decent. There is usually a lot of satisfaction when you get something moving for the first time. You'll also have a lot of people who are mad at you about a problem someone else caused but you are trying to fix.

2) What is the future of the industry?

I wrote a really long rambling answer here, and deleted it. The moral of the story is that "PLCs" have been around for decades, and will continue to be around for decades. What changes is the technologies in use.

3) Best advice? Be willing to work hard, and learn everything you can.

4) The best training is on the job training. Some employers are willing to take on a willing beginner, at a true entry level/apprentice type position. Many are not.

Not sure what online classes are good and what aren't. In the US, if you have to pick one brand to get trained on, pick Rockwell. Siemens is probably the biggest player globally. Despite what I just said, most skills are transferable, and you shouldn't worry to much about brand, learn transferable skills. Learning what an error LED means is good, learning how to troubleshoot is better.

5) Start 2 places.

Read threads here. Don't be afraid to ask questions. We won't just go and solve your problems for you, but we will provide pointers.

Find a career fair. Give everyone your resume. You might need to find a different job, and slide sideways into the one you really want.

Last edited by mk42; March 7th, 2018 at 03:16 PM.
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Old March 7th, 2018, 03:09 PM   #5
gclshortt
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http://accautomation.ca/programming/...ginners-guide/

The above is a starting point. Learn the basics and then apply to a specific brand of PLC.
All of the above information is free.

Regards,
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Old March 7th, 2018, 06:25 PM   #6
Ih8Siemens
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The oil fields in North Dakota ( I am sure Texas and off-shore as well) will always need I&E / PLC Programming.

People here can answer without hesitation that it definitely is worth it. But that is because most of us that are in the field love what we do. It is not a job for everyone, and in my experience in the oil field you will take a beating. Physically and mentally week in and week out. From flow meters not being properly wired, to pressure transducers that aren't scaling properly because they were mis-wired by someone else. Tank transmitters losing com's, electricians improperly wiring VFD's that almost take your life when you take their word for if its good (always check but in your early stages you wont know better), people breathing down your throat because everything is behind schedule but its up to you since you are the last one to work on the site before it is operational. All of these plus millions more of things that knock you off your horse over and over and over again. Why do I still do it and others? I can't speak for everyone but I think I speak for most when I say that there is no better feeling in the world than when you figure out that problem. When everything is behind schedule and you go and ACE the programming or perfectly program device configuration. When you or a co worker have been stuck on something FOREVER and no light shows itself, when you finally solve that problem, when you for that split second become the hero that saved the day.... That's what makes this job worth it to me.

If you want to follow the path of I&E first (as most should if they are trying to program entire facilities) I would recommend starting as an apprentice electrician with college classes (if available) around industrial controls. I went to williston state college which offers an AAS in industrial automation.
I would also look into IT classes that focus around networking and a few programming languages (this will help when you look at ladder logic as well as when you start utilizing structured text)

If you wish to dive into programming first, there are too many people in high places that use the degree to get them into that position with no field experience that look at a process and dictate what instrumentation needs to be in place to make it work. well day of comissioning the on site programmer picks it apart saying its missing this because that makes this safe and so on. You can take classes to get to know your way around logix designer but really take the time to learn the process you want to control. learn why they use an inlet pressure transducer and a discharge pressure transducer to calculate differential pressure in a filter. then learn why thats needed, can the differential pressure be used to shutdown the pump if it is too great? Does that signify a clogged filter? What else can happen in this process that could deem it unsafe and how do I control that?

This is all just in my opinion and I hope you find this career path as enjoyable as I do. I went from an ordnance disposal tech in the army to this and I have never had a more rewarding career. Again in my experience in the oil field the job of an automation specialist boils down to:
10% programming skill
40% long hours and hard work
50% knowing the process in which you desire to control.

Hope that helps buddy, if you have any questions feel free to PM me or ask one of these guys. Most of the guys here are beyond helpful and if you ever want to see some good posts check out GeoSpark on here. He might be willing to talk to you as well, I know that guy always has great input with things on here.
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Old March 7th, 2018, 09:08 PM   #7
mk42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ih8Siemens View Post
50% knowing the process in which you desire to control
I didn't mention this in my post above, but I'll second it. Understanding the process you're controlling is more important than knowing the tools you're using to control the process. You mostly learn this on the job vs classes ahead of time, but it's still important to keep in mind.
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Old March 7th, 2018, 10:13 PM   #8
Ih8Siemens
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mk42, yeah I wish I knew how much knowing the process would benefit me before jumping into the career. Would have taken a few petroleum classes prior.
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Old March 8th, 2018, 02:30 AM   #9
Ronnie Sullivan
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I would offer slightly differing advice.

To be good at plc programming, automation and control you have to have the right brain.
I don't mean intelligence, I mean a logic brain.
Some have and some don't.

I have had some brilliant electricians work for me that I tried to teach and they either didn't want to know or couldn't grasp it.
The ones that did went on to great things.

Before you spend any money on classes - buy a plc and software and lead (ebay is your friend) and set it up on your desk.
If you like it and make progress you can then maybe progress to classes (but like most - you will self teach)
If you don't like it - you can always sell it again on ebay.
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Old March 8th, 2018, 07:07 AM   #10
mk42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ih8Siemens View Post
mk42, yeah I wish I knew how much knowing the process would benefit me before jumping into the career. Would have taken a few petroleum classes prior.
I guess the other side of the coin is that PLC knowledge will work in many industries, where as petroleum knowledge becomes useless if you move to Detroit (god forbid) and want an Automotive job. If I moved out to North Dakota, knowing how to build a car wouldn't help much in Oil&Gas, but being familiar with PLCs would.

However, I'd be more likely to start from the bottom with only PLC knowledge, whereas I could see someone coming in at a higher level if they understand the process, and picking up the PLC parts on the fly.
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Old March 8th, 2018, 11:33 AM   #11
Carlo3802
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WOW guys thank you so much you are so helpful!! Didn't expect this lol

I liked all of your advices and I'll try to answer what are my concerns.
I liked the suggestion to buy a starter kit since I don't really know what is about and figure if I like.

I'll be honest with you guys I'm kind of scared at this point of my life. After the graduation I worked most with computers, like geek, I learn by myself how to make a website with wordpress, learning many programs like autocad, photoshop, VMware, networking was always my passion but nothing really serious. I really liked dig into somenthing, fixed, I liked the feeling like someone said here, but I was always more a methodic person,following procedures instead problem solving. One of my prof at Univ liked to say "guys if you don't like to disassemble or build or how things work inside an object forget about this engineer course"!! Really motivating lol Also I wasn't that good.. there are always smarter people than you like also worst. Let's say I was always like B or 7 from 1 to 10. And than after 10 years in computer field, I literally went in another direction. I was FedEx driver for 5 years. No kidding. I tried to get a certificate for Networking Administrator but I didn't, I got bored at one point to stay in front a PC 8hr every day, plus today I spend prob other 2hr by myself watching screens like TV, Cellphones, pads etc etc. Anyhow I miss the gratification to solve a problem. FedEx driver was nice for a while like constant paycheck, fisically hard work but getting in shape,you know what's going to be everyday, nice workteam,etc Cons repetitive,dangerous,not really mentally satisfying,long hours and physically exhausting which became mentally stressing at the end. But paradoxically one of the best feeling I had was coming back home and switch off my brain, I was able to completely put aside the job or thinking to it. Something that I never tried out with a brain-work or if you are a contractor.
But now first kid is on his way, I'm 40 and my concern is that I don't really have a career, I didn't specialized in anything in particular and if I don't do anything now I'm not gonna do in the future, where prob I'll be one of the billions of people without a specific knowledge and work. Sry I wrote a lot but you were the best in suggestions, I tried different places, and I like to get the best from you.
I apoligize also for my english, still working on it! I'm italian but I work and live in USA from 7 years. I'm not gonna lie also that PLC is interesting beacause is a profession that you can do all around the world so it's appealing.
Couple more questions for you like expert in this field: do you think this job is more solving problem or following procedures? both? dipends maybe on what level you work and what is your goal?? or maybe it's more solving problems in the beginning of your apprenticeship and than you can work on procedures when you get there<---- and there when if I start now to learn? 1/2/3 years??

Thank you so much guys I'll check all the links you posted and for all your time dedicating... really really appreciate!!
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Old March 8th, 2018, 12:43 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronnie Sullivan View Post
I would offer slightly differing advice......
+1

Very well said


Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlo3802
WOW guys thank you so much you are so helpful!! Didn't expect this lol
Welcome to the club

If you do go this route some of us (not all) work like dogs, all night, weekends and holidays, so having a new one in your family (congrats!) may not be the best for you... but the money is good and you can pay for your kids college
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Old March 8th, 2018, 09:21 PM   #13
Ih8Siemens
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mk42 View Post
I guess the other side of the coin is that PLC knowledge will work in many industries, where as petroleum knowledge becomes useless if you move to Detroit (god forbid) and want an Automotive job. If I moved out to North Dakota, knowing how to build a car wouldn't help much in Oil&Gas, but being familiar with PLCs would.

However, I'd be more likely to start from the bottom with only PLC knowledge, whereas I could see someone coming in at a higher level if they understand the process, and picking up the PLC parts on the fly.
True, and mk42 I know you dont know me but believe me when i say that there is NOTHING that will put me in Detroit!
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Old March 8th, 2018, 09:27 PM   #14
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Carlo, I was orignially going to college for IT networking and programming. When I switched gears after studying the StuxNet Virus to PLC's I got an internship over the summer. Depending on how quickly you pick up on things I had went from a green intern to taking service calls within a month, I was offered a full time position at the end of the summer, a year I was programming entire facilities. (not too toot my own horn) But theres guys that have been in the field for YEARS that still dont quite get it. Ronnie Sullivan said it pretty well, it will be something that you will grasp or not. Now being a computer guy I would guess you have a start to that logical brain Ronnie was talking about.

Best of luck to you brother.
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Old March 8th, 2018, 09:32 PM   #15
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And Siemens is something you don’t grasp?
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