Comparing PLC, Software Containers and Edge Computing for future industrial use: a literature review

University essay from Högskolan i Skövde/Institutionen för ingenjörsvetenskap

Abstract: Industrial automation is critical in today's industry. The majority of new scientific and technological advancements are either enabling technologies or industrial automation application areas. In the past, the two main forms of control systems were distributed control systems (DCS) and programmable logic controllers (PLCs). PLCs have been referred as the "brain" of production systems because they provide the capacity to meet interoperability, reconfigurability, and portability criteria. Today's industrial automation systems rely heavily on control software to ensure that the automation process runs smoothly and efficiently. Furthermore, requirements like flexibility, adaptability, and robustness add to the control software's complexity. As a result, new approaches to building control software are required. The International Electrotechnical Commission attempted to meet these new and impending demands with the new IEC 61499 family of standards for distributed automation systems. The IEC 61499 standard specifies a high-level system design language for distributed data and control. With the advancement of these technologies like edge/fog computing and IIoT, how the control software in future smart factory managed is discussed here. This study aims to do a systematic literature review on PLC, software containers, edge/fog computing and IIoT for future industrial use. The objective is to identify the correspondence between the functional block (IEC 61499) and the container technology such as Docker. The impact of edge computing and the internet of things in industrial automation is also analysed. Since the aim is to do a comparative study, a qualitative explorative study is done, with the purpose to gather rich insight about the field. The analysis of the study mainly focused on four major areas such as deployment, run time, performance and security of these technologies. The result shows that containerisation or container based solutions is the basis for future automation as it outperforms virtual machines in terms of deployment, run time, performance and security. 

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