Help me understand signal engineering and PLCs in less than a month
June 26, 2007 9:07 AM   Subscribe

In a little more than a month I have a job interview for a job as a programmer/consultant at a European software company. The job description asks (among other things) for a background in signaling engineering and PLC programming which I don't have. They already know that this is the case, but as I'd really like to get this job, I'm thinking that I could maybe try to learn the basics before the interview to show that I'm serious. So MeFi, what would be some good books/resources on the web/... on signal engineering and PLCs?
posted by Friday to Technology (1 answer total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A nonmember emailed the following:
I wrote user manuals and online help for Schneider Electric PLCs for two years. The best advice I can give you would be to realize that you will not be able to learn the basics in just over a month. PLC engineers, at least in France (I'm American but work for Schneider France) have special math/science-focused "diplomas" (the French bac) in order to be accepted into engineering schools, and then get five-year PLC engineering degrees that include another 6 months of job training to earn the final diploma.

I began technical writing for Schneider with what I thought were the "basics" in PLCs -- Ladder language, Grafcet; knowledge of Ethernet and Modbus communications. I'd mainly done website programming before that and am pretty technical-minded. Nonetheless, it became apparent within about four hours on my first day of tech writing that what I'd considered "basic" knowledge was, in fact, roughly equivalent to nothing.

My advice would be to go ahead and read up on the basics -- the Wikipedia PLC entry has good external links -- but for your own reputation's sake, do not pretend to have a background in PLC programming if you don't. It's a very different world, and it took me several months and a few intensive Schneider training courses just to be able to decipher programs written by our PLC experts. (For those curious, PLC engineers write all the programs in the literature.)
posted by mathowie at 11:33 AM on June 26, 2007

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