The lack of keyboard, and other input-output devices is very noticeable on a PLC. On the front of the PLC there are normally limited status lights. Common lights indicate;

power on - this will be on whenever the PLC has power

program running - this will often indicate if a program is running, or if no program is running

fault - this will indicate when the PLC has experienced a major hardware or software problem

These lights are normally used for debugging. Limited buttons will also be provided for PLC hardware. The most common will be a run/program switch that will be switched to program when maintenance is being conducted, and back to run when in production. This switch normally requires a key to keep unauthorized personnel from altering the PLC program or stopping execution. A PLC will almost never have an on-off switch or reset button on the front. This needs to be designed into the remainder of the system.

The status of the PLC can be detected by ladder logic also. It is common for programs to check to see if they are being executed for the first time, as shown in Figure 7.6 An program that checks for the first scan of the PLC. The ’first scan’ or ’first pass’ input will be true the very first time the ladder logic is scanned, but false on every other scan. In this case the address for ’first pass’ in ControlLogix is ’S:FS’. With the logic in the example the first scan will seal on ’light’, until ’clear’ is turned on. So the light will turn on after the PLC has been turned on, but it will turn off and stay off after ’clear’ is turned on. The ’first scan’ bit is also referred to at the ’first pass’ bit.

Figure 7.6 An program that checks for the first scan of the PLC

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