Introduction to PLC Programming and Implementation (6)


PLC configuration should be considered during flowcharting and logic sequencing. The PLC’s configuration defines which I/O modules will be used with which types of I/O signals, as well as where the modules will be located in the local or remote rack enclosures. The modules’ locations determine the I/O addresses that will be used in the control program.

During system configuration, the user should consider the following: possible future expansions; special I/O modules, such as fast-response or wire fault inputs; and the placement of interfaces within a rack (all AC I/O together, all DC and low-level analog I/O together, etc.). Consideration of these details, along with system configuration documentation, will result in a better system design.


The assignment of inputs and outputs is one of the most important procedures that occurs during the programming organization and implementation stages. The I/O assignment table documents and organizes what has been done thus far. It indicates which PLC inputs are connected to which input devices and which PLC outputs drive which output devices. The assignment of internals, including timers, counters, and MCRs, also takes place here.
These assignments are the actual contact and coil representations that are used in the ladder diagram program. In applications where electromechanical relay diagrams are available (e.g., modernization of a machine or process), identification of real I/O can be done by circling the devices and then assigning them I/O addresses (see Example 1).
Table 2 shows an I/O address assignment table for real inputs and outputs, while Table 3 shows an I/O address assignment table for internals. These assignments can be extracted from the logic gate diagrams or ladder symbols that were used to describe the logic sequences. They can also come from the circled elements on an electromechanical diagram. The numbers used for the I/O addresses depend on the PLC model used. These addresses can be represented in octal, decimal, or hexadecimal. The description section of the table specifies the field devices that correspond to each address.

The table of address assignments should closely follow the input/output connection diagram (see Figure 6). Although industry standards for I/O representations vary among users, inputs and outputs are typically represented by squares and diamonds, respectively. The I/O connection diagram forms part of the documentation package.

During the I/O assignment, the user should group associated inputs and outputs. This grouping will allow the monitoring and manipulation of a group of I/O simultaneously. For instance, if 16 motors will be started sequentially, they should be grouped together, so that monitoring the I/O registers associated with the 16 grouped I/O points will reveal the motors’ starting sequence. Due to the modularity of an I/O system, all the inputs and all the outputs should be assigned at the same time. This practice will prevent the assignment of an input address to an output module and vice versa.


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