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PLC talks to engineers via a GSM phone link

01 September, 2000

PLC talks to engineers via a GSM phone link

A tiny programmable controller that can send and receive messages via the GSM (Global System Mobile) mobile phone network, has been developed by the German controls specialist, Beck.

The FC38 PLC has a built-in GSM modem that provides two-way communications with the outside world. An engineer can send an SMS (Short Message Service) message to the PLC to ask for a status report. Alternatively, in the event of an alarm, the PLC can send a message automatically to the engineer`s mobile phone.

To illustrate the PLC`s capabilities, Beck, a division of Festo, has built a demonstration rig (shown below) using the PLC to control a chocolate vending machine so that dispenses its contents in response to an incoming SMS message, instead of being fed with coins.

The PLC has 12 digital inputs and eight outputs. It has two serial interfaces and an Ethernet port and is designed to be used either by itself or as part of a decentralised control network. Beck expects applications to range from sorting systems to access control equipment.

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