Learning IEC 61131-3 Programming Languages

As a long-time integrator, I've become a reliable source of help for most PLC-based ladder logic systems. But it's clear that I need to supplement this with object-based programming skills around the IEC 61131-3 standard languages. Is function block reusability, which is supposed to make my life easier, its biggest benefit? What's the learning curve like to become good at it?

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  • <p>Function block reusability is nice, but I don't think that should be the major selling point. How often do you need to do the exact same task in different projects? It happens, but I usually end up editing an existing function block and make a new one to suit the new purpose. I prefer the IEC style mostly because it offers so much flexibility. Some tasks are programmed more naturally in text, ladder, sequential function chart, etc. I don't know of anyone in the States that programs using instruction list. Very efficient from a processing standpoint, but not very intuitive. I tend to use sequential function chart programming for both overall machine control, and for function blocks. It is essentially a flow chart that has all your code in it.</p> <p>The learning curve isn't that long. I think that knowing ladder may not help you a whole lot because you may want to fall back on that instead of figuring out a better method. I know of several old-time PLC programmers that want nothing to do with anything other than ladder. Part of that is because the guys on the floor already know ladder well enough to troubleshoot, but the IEC style is a big change.</p>

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