Distributed Control Systems (DCS) & Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)

In industrial process controls, DCS and PLC are the most common tools used to control industrial activities and processes.

When comparing these options, it’s important to note that a PLC (programmable logic controller) is appropriate for controlling a single process whereas a DCS (distributed control system) is capable of controlling an entire facility or plant.

Distributed Control Systems (DCS)

This platform allows facilities to use multiple processors to distribute control. This reduces the likelihood of whole-process failure while maintaining localized control that allows for remote operation. Both the DCS hardware and the logic processor is spread across multiple microprocessor components

When process security and reliability are critical, or when remote operation is necessary, our team may recommend using DCS architecture, particularly for large, heavy industrial processes.

DCS systems must be configured — not programmed — which requires minimal time and engineering.

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)

In its simplest form, a PLC is a form of microcomputer module designed to withstand the rigors of the industrial environment. These controllers can be used to automate a variety of processes that demand consistency over time.

Whereas the primary focus of DCSs are substantial, broad processes, PLCs are better-suited to smaller tasks that require rapid response. PLCs require programming, which is accomplished via a human-machine interface (HMI); however, they are faster and easier to set up.

Is DCS or PLC Right for Your Process Control System?

The good news is that today, you don’t have to choose between these two options. Your facility could use both — DCSs can incorporate PLCs as discrete components of the process. Sometimes, however, one is more suited to a specific application than the other.

Double D Electrical & Instrumentation designs process control systems using both DCS and PLC technology. Our team will design the most effective control system for your facility, depending on your needs, objectives and budget. To learn more about how DCSs and PLCs can benefit your process control project, contact us today.