Machine Connectivity 101: Getting Data from PLC-Controlled Equipment

“Capturing machine data is as easy as 1-2-3,” said no engineer ever.

While there are steps that happen every time, getting access to machine data can often be frustrating and confusing.  That doesn't mean your company has to skip some assets, or even pass over some plants in its IIoT efforts.  Try these things first:

Step 1: Pick the Right Physical Connection

To push or pull data from the machine, identify the best physical connection. Ethernet is preferred, typically with a RJ45 connector. If the controller or PLC doesn't have an available port, you may need to add an Ethernet communication card or use a serial port with an adapter.

Step 2: Identify Communication Protocol

Most controllers and PLCs use a proprietary protocol published for use by third parties. Depending on the software or system the plant uses, you might be able to communicate with the machine directly, or you might need software that converts the proprietary protocol to an industry standard like OPC.

Step 3: Find the Data

The last step is to identify the location of the data you want to collect. The best way to do this is with an offline copy of the controller code with comments. When there's well-documented code, it usually takes less time to do then when documentation is brief or lacking.

Stuck? Get Advice from a Machine Connectivity Expert

If your team gets stuck on any of the steps above, contact Toward Zero for help and advice.