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How Do I Choose the Best Free PLC Software?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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Programmable logic controller (PLC) software is used to control some devices and mechanics, and free PLC software allows you to write controller instructions without having to pay for the program. Most free programs have certain conditions or are only temporarily free, however, and you should check these terms to see if they meet your needs. If the free PLC software has basic templates, then it can quickly help you make control operations just by filling in some information rather than writing an entire application from scratch. When the device is moving, a run-time editor may be helpful, because it allows you to edit movements immediately. Plug-and-play technology allows you to plug a controller into the computer and route all instructions to it, without having to rely on drivers to route the instructions.

A free PLC program may be so without any conditions, though this is rare. The most common stipulations include the program being a temporary free trial before the program stops working or requires payment, a scaled-down program with only basic functionality or a program that has ads appear during use. Getting a non-conditional-use free program is usually best. If this is impossible, however, you should read the conditions so you can know how free the program really is before you begin using it.

To make a PLC work, you need to write an application with movement instructions. Most applications will have similar steps, so free PLC software with application templates will make it easier to write the application, because most of the generic work will be done for you. While this is not required for PLC operation, it will greatly reduce the amount of coding time needed to make the PLC work.

When a PLC is running, it is possible that errors will occur because of incorrect programming. With a run-time editor, you will be able to fix these errors as they are occurring. Aside from making error correction faster, this also will ensure coding accuracy, because you can immediately see how the new coding affects the PLC.

Free PLC software should come with plug-and-play technology; otherwise, you have to do much more coding before the PLC will even work. Using this technology, free PLC software will route all programming into the PLC without any extra work. Otherwise, you will need to write extra programming to integrate the PLC and the program before you manually write programming to route the information, which takes much more time and has a higher possibility of introducing errors.

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