There have been several occasions where I’ve been in the presence of electrical engineers, discussing the proliferation of Arduino in the maker community and seeking their thoughts. Often, the conversation turns to the divide between makers tinkering at home and engineers working with PLC systems.
For those who are not familiar with PLCs, I’ll keep it as short and sweet as possible. These are more industrial systems that you would find at a manufacturer running important equipment. You typically wouldn’t find an arduino Leonardo sitting in a box with a protoboard and a bunch of wires. They use a few different methods of programming, and there’s a bit of a gulf between learning one and learning the other.
Arduino is closing this gulf a bit with this latest announcement.
…we have just launched a dedicated Arduino PLC IDE, which supports the five languages defined by the IEC 61131-3 standard: Ladder Diagram, Functional Block Diagram, Structured Text, Sequential Function Chart and Instruction List.Download the PLC IDE and use it to combine PLC programming with Arduino sketch programming – even leveraging pre-installed libraries – to get your Portenta Machine Control up and running in no time, bringing deterministic cyclic tasks and multitasking to your software applications with integrated no-code Fieldbus configurators that allow you to manage CanOpen, Modbus RTU, and Modbus TCP communication. Spoiler alert: In the near future, the Arduino Opta will also be available!
Admittedly, most makers in their workshop aren’t going to harness this. However, for those on track to become electrical engineers, this may end up being a stepping stone between the two worlds.