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My motivation behind PLC Simulator Online

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    Szymon Palczynski

A year ago, an idea conceived to create an Online PLC Simulator. As I lacked any experience with programming web apps and couldn’t afford to pay someone to do it, I began learning how to. I started with the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Next - React.js and Redux. To not go round in circles, I hired a mentor as well. The effect of my work is basic, yet functional web app PLC Simulator Online. This post will describe what I imagine for the Simulator’s future development and intent behind it.

High entry threshold

The Simulator has beginners in mind that have just started their journey with Programmable Logic Controllers as well as professionals trying to help less experienced colleagues.

The main problem I noticed was the difficulty of accessing the tools. Programs like TIA Portal or Studio 5000 offer trial versions that, unfortunately, are time-limited. The CodeSys platform is available for free but needs to be installed first on a PC. On top of that, tools are very advanced and might discourage someone from taking the first steps into PLC programming.

There is a popular PLC Fiddle that is simplistic and works in a web browser. However, it doesn't support mobile devices. That's why I decided to create a simulator that would work on any device with a web browser.

Ease of Access

Sometimes, during a conversation, I find a need to show someone a solution to a problem in ladder logic. If I don’t have my laptop with me, it might prove not easy. That’s where the idea to create a smartphone capable tool came from.

I whip my phone out, make a couple of gestures, and voila - the program is ready. Without installation, without configuring PLC, etc. I turn on the simulation to present how the program would behave in an actual Programmable Logic Controller. This way, I can quickly and effectively show someone how to resolve a given issue.

Share your knowledge

Another essential PLC Simulator feature would be sharing a ladder logic program using a link. If you have written a program that you would like to share with others, copy the URL, and send it to someone. The person receiving it, only by clicking the link, will be able to view your program in their browser and simulate, edit and share it with someone else.

In the future, we are planning to post on CodingPLC a set of simple automation exercises that could be solved using the Simulator and valid a solution. To me, solving simple problems was the most appealing way to learn new programming languages.

PLC Simulator Online needs your help!

If you find the PLC Simulator Online idea interesting, please spare a couple of minutes testing it and share your experience with us in the survey. This project has you in mind - a user and has no chances of succeeding without your involvement. Let us know what works, what needs to be fixed, and share it with other people that might find it useful. By doing so, you have a chance to become a co-author of this project!