How PLCs and drives unlock intelligent industrial automation

Drives, often referred to as variable speed drives or VSDs, control the speed and torque of electric motors. The use of variable speed drives can significantly reduce energy consumption and enable precise control of key processes and machines, across a variety of industries. 

Simply pairing an existing motor with a drive offers a significant opportunity to boost performance and energy efficiency. In fact, drives can typically decrease energy consumption by up to 25% or more. But there is an additional way to optimise efficiency – combining a motor-drive system with a programmable logic controller (PLCs).

PLCs are compact, yet powerful, automation devices which actively monitor input signals from various sources, including drives. The PLC uses this data to make intelligent real-time decisions that can guide the actions of these drives. This results in more reliable, cost-efficient operation of the application they control.

A single PLC can seamlessly coordinate the movement of multiple drives connected to numerous motors, enabling precise synchronisation even in intricate and large-scale operations. These PLCs are often pre-programmed with specific instructions tailored to the unique needs of the industrial process they oversee.

PLCs in action 

In smart irrigation, for example, PLCs can continuously collect data from various sensors, including weather forecasts, soil moisture levels, and temperature sensors. This wealth of real-time information is then analysed and processed. When the data indicates, for example, high temperatures and low humidity, the PLC instructs the drive and motor to release just the right amount of water from the pump to prevent crop stress, ultimately conserving precious water resources.