How PLC people are treated.

Join Date
Feb 2007
Location
Oklahoma
Posts
256
Hi to all the PLC professional.
Lately I have been doing a lot of PLC projects using RsLogix 500 in which I have been getting a lot of positive comments by my bosses. I always keep in the back of my head that everyone is replaceable and I enjoy PLC projects a lot. I am in to PLC programming at home for fun because I like the challenge. The company I work for is large and not very many people really understand PLCs. Basically they tell me what they want the machine to do and I figure out how to make it happen. What I would like to know ,is if people who know PLCs well, get respect in other companies, because of most people not understanding PLCs and needing people to program them. In some companies are PLC people treated like dirt? I understand if a PLC person goes to a customer’s plant they are not going to always be treated well. I was just wondering how one is treated by the company they work for? This is just something I was wondering about to see where I want to go from here; to stay with my current employer or go somewhere else in the future to make more money. Thank you all in advance.
Sincerely:
Maintenance Man.
 
The upside to working with PLCs (or any other tool) is the respect you get when you can make someone's job easier or more productive.

The downside is that people who have no concept of how the components of a system work together will blame every mishap on the component they understand the least. In many cases that component is the PLC. If you are they guy who programmed the PLC, then by extension you get the blame for the downtime and lost production. Once you connect your laptop to the PLC to find out that the missing limit switch signal is preventing the line from starting, there's "something wrong in the PLC". It doesn't matter that Homer drove over the limit switch with the forklift.
 
Second Steve's response.

There is a silent "Respect" for the PLC guys I think. After all, no matter how simple/complex the problem is, it is a known that the Controls guy will figure it out, and make the calls to whom is responsible to fix the problem once it is determined. Unfortunately, this does result in lazy maintenance folk who call you because their brain is too tired that day. I was once called in at 3 am, knew within 15 min it was a bad wheel bearing, but had to wait for first shift at 6am because the night guys insisted they "checked it out already"....needless to say 6:15 am the machine was running with a new wheel bearing.

I don't think much respect is given to the amount of time it takes to make even "simple" changes. Unless you have programming experience, nobody has a clue, including management.
 
Yes - "It's the PLC's fault" seems to be the idea until proved otherwise. And their most helpful suggestion is to re-load the program.

To the extent that you can let the power of the PLC provide as much error detection and suggestion of remedy as possible. An HMI would let you provide great feedback: "Check switch ..."

Edit - to second Pauley's observation - I think I've found that programming a machine requires the most overall knowledge of the machine. I seem to find a system interrelated problems (a mechanical problem which causes a pneumatic problem which becomes an electrical problem) faster.
 
Last edited:
Yes - "It's the PLC's fault" seems to be the idea until proved otherwise. And their most helpful suggestion is to re-load the program.

I have a customer with a few machines that use DTAM's for operator interface.

Whenever the machine has a problem (no matter what the problem is) the company president demands that I change the DTAM.
 
Once you connect your laptop to the PLC to find out that the missing limit switch signal is preventing the line from starting, there's "something wrong in the PLC". It doesn't matter that Homer drove over the limit switch with the forklift.
well, if one needs to connect laptop to see why something doesn't run then this is a design issue. note that this is not quite PLC so far, but most of the time PLC programmer is one at least involved, if not responsible, for design of the control system.
 
well, if one needs to connect laptop to see why something doesn't run then this is a design issue. note that this is not quite PLC so far, but most of the time PLC programmer is one at least involved, if not responsible, for design of the control system.


Sometimes...depending on the system you may not be able to put every fault where it is plainly obvious. As much as I would like to we can not always justify a touch screen or can not think of every possible fault. Sometimes plugging in the lap top is just faster.

As for the orginal post. When I was a plant/project engineer I would be trouble shooting problems because no one else had any idea what to do. 99% of the time it had nothing to do with the PLC but was a mechanical failure. Because I could read the PLC code I could usually get to the problem. It is one of the reasons I am in job I am in now. Now I design control panels for an OEM. And unless my service guys are on the road it tends to be 40 hour weeks.

Just a word of advise. When you reprogram a machine, you own it. Anytime that machine has an issue your the one who has to find it. Being related to the program changes you made is not an requirement for it being your fault.
 
Its a paradox.

If the control's person does his job perfectly, good design with the diagnostics as Bernie stated with 99% of the software bugs taken care of, then the machines blend into the overall efficiency of the factory. Nobody notices how good of a job was done and the engineer gets the silent performance award. Unfortunatly, when its time to cut back on the workforce, nobody knows who this person is and what they do, but their salary is too high to justify and usually a prime candidate for a layoff.

However, if you don't do a perfect job, but seen always working on the machines, making small fixes, diagnosing mechanical or product issues, then the engineer is widely known as a major contributor to the operation and is a valued asset.
 
At one job many years ago I had the opposite problem. The PLC programmer blamed everything on my wiring. I would let him rant until he had to go answer the phone, then I would fix his logic. Eventually I became the PLC programmer after the General Manager figured out that I could program after watching one of these episodes.
 
Thank You

Thank you all for replying to my post. I enjoy working with PLCs; so I am sure this makes a big factor in doing this kind of work. When a tech comes to work on one of our machines, I always treat them with respect, because they are just doing their job. Most techs are easy to get along with and are usually willing to teach you a lot about their machine. I really do not understand why people in some companies want to be so rude to them; I guess, like some of you have said, they do not know much or noting about the workings of their machine. When I was a maintenance supervisor and something was down because of a complicated electronic problem, the plant manager would always ask me “What are we going to do”? I always thought he should just say “what are you going to do”? Then there is always the famous saying that all companies use “there is no I in team”. When I am working with other maintenance people it is a team, but I know a lot of the time the Is are working on the equipment while the team is in the office or standing over the Is wanting to know “how much longer”? I bet most of you have experienced this more than a few times? I would like to give all you professionals a big thank you for all your help to get everyone up and running when are bosses ask us “what are we going to do”? It looks like PLC programmers are treated like industrial maintenance people where management has the attitude “it’s broke so fix it”. And if the equipment breaks again soon its “why didn’t you fix it right the first time”? When the equipment is fixed and works well; everyone is happy until it breaks down again. I like what I do for a living and just was looking for some feedback from people who work with PLCs all the time every day. Again thank you all very much for your input.

Sincerely:
Maintenance Man
 
I don't care what people think of me.
If it's broke, I fix it.
I treat people how I expect to be treated.
I learned years ago to never accuse anyone of anything.
A wise man once told me "you're only as good as your last call."
 
Its a paradox.

If the control's person does his job perfectly, good design with the diagnostics as Bernie stated with 99% of the software bugs taken care of, then the machines blend into the overall efficiency of the factory. Nobody notices how good of a job was done and the engineer gets the silent performance award. Unfortunatly, when its time to cut back on the workforce, nobody knows who this person is and what they do, but their salary is too high to justify and usually a prime candidate for a layoff.

However, if you don't do a perfect job, but seen always working on the machines, making small fixes, diagnosing mechanical or product issues, then the engineer is widely known as a major contributor to the operation and is a valued asset.
Amen.
A couple times I'd go in make a small change screw up the entire system then remove my "enhancement" only to be thanked for fixing a problem.

Most times I make changes, everything works perfectly and I'm looked down on for not doing anything or playing on the computer all day. Takes a long time to get all those bugs out sometimes.
 

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