It’s 2019, why can’t I plug a barcode scanner into my PLC’s serial port?
Barcodes have been around for decades now, which naturally means barcode scanners have also been around for decades. The introduction of barcode scanning came with great fanfare in 1974 with the scan of a UPC off a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum. Barcode scanning has become ubiquitous since. PLCs have been around just as long, with Dick Morley’s Modicon company introducing the 084 in 1969. The RS-232 standard, introduced in 1960, has been associated with both barcode scanners and PLCs throughout its history. Not to mention the introduction of USB 1.0 in 1996, which in the 22 years since, has seen widespread adoption for transmitting ASCII characters. Despite all this concurrent technological development, you still can’t plug an RS-232 barcode scanner and into a PLC’s RS-232 port.
Well, I don’t have an easy answer for that. As to not sound overly cynical, I won’t say that barcode scanner manufacturers want to preserve their margins by selling PLC-compatible barcode scanners at a premium (often over 2-3x the cost, with no added functionality). I also won’t say it’s because PLC manufacturers want to sell you additional communications modules to achieve this seemingly-simple connection. But at some point, you wonder if it’s possible to get a barcode scanner on your PLC without paying out the wazoo for no added value outside PLC compatibility.
Here comes the ScanDr. to bridge the gap!
At this point, you can probably tell I’m going somewhere with this. As you might know, Real Time Automation makes ASCII to PLC gateways connecting up to two ASCII devices with the data table of an Allen-Bradley PLC. Well, RTA just made it even easier to add barcode scanning to your Allen-Bradley PLC. With RTA’s ScanDr., we take out the guesswork and give you a one-stop solution.
RTA will provide you with up to two barcode scanners, wired or wireless, with the option for basic industrial or extra-rugged scanners. RTA’s Enginerds configure the gateway to work with the barcode scanners out of the box. With this AOI provided, it makes installation as easy as possible for you. All you do is set the IP address, enter your PLC type (ControlLogix, MicroLogix, etc.), and voila! You now have barcode scanning on your PLC!
Wait, why do I need barcode scanning on my PLC?
Good question! Real Time Automation’s customers have added barcode scanning to their PLCs for numerous applications. A common application is on conveyor systems, where a barcode scanner senses labels on products moving through and passes the data to the PLC’s data table, usually for quality checks. They can make sure that the product that’s moving through the line is the correct product. It also lets them view production metrics with greater precision and accuracy. You could also use these within a SCADA system, where you can track labels by displaying the register data on an HMI. With RTA’s Web Interface gateway, the 460ETCWI, you can even remotely monitor this data via a Web server or even an Excel spreadsheet!
If your PLC is in a hazardous environment (or if you have some butterfingers operators), choose our Rugged scanner package for extra durability. If you don’t want to deal with Wired scanners, choose our Wireless package with a Bluetooth base station.
Wow, it sounds like the ScanDr. Package eliminates the hassle of adding barcode scanners to my PLC!
Yep. It’s that simple!