Most Popular 5 Different Types of PLC Programming Languages

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First of all, Thanks for giving me a great response to my blog What is PLC? How does it work? 100% Complete Guide.

Today in this blog, we are going to see different types of PLC programming languages. What are the most common PLC programming languages that often used most among the programmers?

So, Let’s dive into this.

Five different types of PLC Programming Languages

There are five types of PLC Programming languages all are part of IEC(International Electrotechnical Commission) 61131-3 International Standard. According to this standard, The five types of different PLC Programming Languages are:

  1. Ladder Diagram(LD)
  2. Function Block Diagram(FBD)
  3. Structured Text(ST)
  4. Instruction List(IL)
  5. Sequential Function Chart(SFC)

These are all the five different types of PLC programming languages but among all of them, Ladder Diagram(LD) is the most popular PLC programming language.

Types of PLC Programming
Different Types of PLC Programming Languages

Let’s see all these languages in detail one by one.

1) Ladder Diagram(LD)

A ladder diagram is usually called a “Ladder Logic”, this represents a program by a graphical diagram.

Types of PLC Programming

This looks like relay racks, each device in the relay rack would be represented by a symbol on the ladder diagram.

The name ladder diagram is based on the programming language pattern similar to a ladder, with two vertical rails that shows electrical connection among a series of horizontal rungs between them.

Advantages of Ladder Diagram(LD):

  • Easy to learn, understand and follow
  • More reliable than electronic circuit controller
  • A most convenient way to represent the discrete logic
  • Easy to fault diagnose


2) Function Block Diagram(FBD)

Function Block Diagram(FBD) is another PLC programming language that is a popular one and looks like a graphical type like a Ladder Diagram(LD).

In Function Block Diagram inputs and outputs are connected in blocks by connection lines.

Function blocks are mainly used to do repetitive tasks like starters, closed-loop control, PID loops, etc.

Advantages of Function Block Diagram(FBD):

  • Easier because of a graphical representation method
  • One block consists of several lines of logic which is like a repetitive task


3) Structured Text(ST)

The ST or STX is the short abbreviation of Structured Text, one of the PLC programming languages. It is a high-level programming language is like a ‘C’ or ‘Pascal’.

The ST consists of various statements with complex statements and instructions like IF, WHILE, CASE, RETURN, FOR, REPEAT, etc.

It is a very powerful language that can easily execute complex mathematical logic.

Advantages of Structured Text(ST):

  • Very good with complex algorithms and mathematical logic.
  • Easy to modify programming due to standard coding format.


4) Instruction List(IL)

Instruction List(IL) is one of the PLC programming languages which is like an assembly programming language. You will find the series of instruction lists in this language.

Types of PLC Programming

The mnemonic codes like LD, AND, OR, A, etc. are used in this PLC programming language. Sometimes it is easy to remember the code while using this programming language.

Advantages of Instruction List(IL):

  • High Execution Speed.
  • Less Memory Consumption as compared to other PLC programming languages.


5) Sequential Function Chart(SFC)

Sequential Function Chart(SFC) is also a graphical programming language that is similar to a flow chart like logic.

In this PLC programming language, the program is divided into steps that act as a major role.

Steps consist of an action that occurs when a programmer wants them to happen. Steps can be active or inactive.

Transitions are the instructions that are used to move the program from one step to another.

Advantages of Sequential Function Chart(SFC)

  • Easy to understand overall program control.
  • Easy to design and modify logic due to repeated instructions.

Final Thoughts

This is all the basic information about different types of PLC programming languages. So, which is the best PLC programming language as per your opinion? Let me know in the comment section.

As per most of the programmers and users of PLC, Ladder Diagram is the most popular and used PLC programming language due to its easy understanding and similarity to relay logic.

Please let me know your experience with the different types of PLC programming languages and share your opinion about PLC programming.

Thanks again for reading and sharing this blog with your friends and colleagues.

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