Essential PLC Equipment for Your Class

Essential PLC Equipment for Your Class

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) are essential components in automation systems, and understanding their operation is crucial for students pursuing careers in engineering, robotics, and industrial automation. If you’re setting up a PLC class, having the right equipment is vital to provide hands-on learning experiences that solidify theoretical concepts.

This article will delve into the essential equipment needed for a successful PLC class, covering both the hardware and software aspects. We’ll explore the key components and their roles, emphasizing the importance of selecting equipment that aligns with your curriculum and learning objectives.

PLC Hardware

The core of any PLC class is the PLC itself. Here’s a breakdown of the essential hardware components:

  • PLC Unit: This is the brain of the system, responsible for processing instructions and controlling outputs. Choose a PLC unit with appropriate input/output (I/O) capacity, memory, and processing power based on your curriculum’s complexity. Consider factors like the number of input and output points, communication protocols, and programming language support.
  • Input Modules: These modules receive signals from sensors and other devices, converting them into a format the PLC can understand. Input modules can handle various signals, including digital, analog, and pulse signals. Select modules that align with the types of sensors you’ll be using in your class.
  • Output Modules: These modules convert PLC commands into signals that control actuators, motors, lights, and other devices. Output modules can provide various types of outputs, such as digital, analog, and relay outputs. Choose modules that match the types of actuators and other devices you’ll be controlling.
  • Programming Device: This is the tool you’ll use to program the PLC. Options include handheld programming devices, laptop software, or web-based interfaces. Consider the ease of use, programming language support, and compatibility with your PLC unit when selecting a programming device.
  • I/O Wiring: You’ll need appropriate cables and connectors to connect the PLC unit, input/output modules, and other devices. Ensure you have the right types of wiring and connectors to suit your specific equipment and applications.

PLC Software

In addition to hardware, you’ll need software to program and simulate PLC applications. Here’s a look at essential PLC software:

  • PLC Programming Software: This software allows you to create and edit PLC programs using ladder logic, function block diagrams, or other programming languages. Choose software that is compatible with your PLC unit and provides features like debugging, simulation, and documentation.
  • PLC Simulation Software: This software allows you to test and debug your PLC programs in a virtual environment before deploying them to the actual PLC. Simulation software is invaluable for teaching students about PLC logic and behavior without the risk of damaging hardware.

Additional Equipment

To enhance the learning experience, consider including additional equipment for your PLC class:

  • Sensors and Actuators: A variety of sensors and actuators allow students to experiment with different PLC applications. Consider sensors like limit switches, photoelectric sensors, temperature sensors, and pressure sensors. For actuators, include items like solenoids, motors, relays, and LED lights.
  • PLC Trainer: A dedicated PLC trainer provides a structured platform for students to practice PLC programming and control. Trainers often include pre-wired circuits, sensors, actuators, and a PLC unit, offering a complete learning environment.
  • Robotics Kit: Integrating robotics into your PLC class can make learning more engaging and practical. A robotics kit can be programmed with PLCs, allowing students to build and control robots, enhancing their understanding of automation concepts.

Choosing Equipment for Your PLC Class

The specific equipment you choose will depend on your curriculum, budget, and learning objectives. Consider the following factors:

  • Level of Difficulty: Choose equipment that aligns with the skill level of your students. Start with basic PLC units and simple applications for beginners and gradually increase complexity as students progress.
  • Learning Objectives: Ensure the equipment supports the learning objectives of your curriculum. If you’re teaching process control, for example, you’ll need equipment that can simulate and control process variables.
  • Budget: Set a realistic budget for your PLC equipment. There are various options available at different price points, allowing you to find a balance between functionality and affordability.


Having the right equipment is essential for a successful PLC class. By investing in a well-equipped classroom, you can provide students with the hands-on experience they need to develop a solid understanding of PLC technology and prepare them for careers in automation and related fields.