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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone, my first time posting. I have a question, how do you get into industrial controls field/ instrumentation? I currently work for a small contractor doing residental/ commercial work mostly service, I just started my 3rd year in the trade. I currently take classes for PLCs at my local community college along with some classes to help get my Journeyman card. I live in central California and their is lots of industry around me. ( oil and gas, agriculture, food processing, and manufacturing). Any info is much appreciated, thanks!
 

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I purchased a plc and played around with it for years at home. Then at a small plant I did work for I seen the opportunity to install a new control system for conveyor control. Try to practice at home and then find a simple project in the real world to do with it.
 

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The NJATC has a decent program. But you have to be an IBEW member to take it.
Other than that, there's always PLC simulators online, or to download. As far as getting into the field, you need to find a contractor who has maintenance accounts in those facilities with PLC's.
 
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I have been wanting to do that for a while. Where did you get your PLC? @mbednarik

I’m currently non-union, but I have been considering joining my LU

Thank you both
 

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I have been wanting to do that for a while. Where did you get your PLC? @mbednarik

I’m currently non-union, but I have been considering joining my LU

Thank you both

You may be able to find a used Allen-Bradley MicroLogix PLC on eBay. I would stick to a 1100/1400/1500 because they use RSLogix Micro to program, which is free. Maybe also look into a Micro 800 series, I believe they use Connected Components Workbench for programming, which is also free. If those are too expensive, maybe look into an Automation Direct Click PLC.


If you do get a MicroLogix, look up the model number (e.g. L16-AWA or L16-BWA etc), this will tell you what kind of inputs and outputs it has, and more importantly what kind of power supply you'll need. IIRC L16-AXX is 120VAC power and L16-BXX is 24VDC. You can rig up the 120VAC with a normal power plug into a fuse holder, or if you have a bench power supply, 24VDC would be the best choice in my opinion.
 

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you can also start with Zelio from schneider electric.
software is free, you can program using ladder, function block and even grafcet.

download free software 'zeliosoft' from schneider.you can simulate program before uploadind to plc:smile:
 

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you can also start with Zelio from schneider electric.
software is free, you can program using ladder, function block and even grafcet.

download free software 'zeliosoft' from schneider.you can simulate program before uploadind to plc:smile:
Not sure I'd go this route because that PLC and software is almost nonexistent in industry, although the general principles apply. I'd go the A-B MicroLogix route and download the crippled RSLogix software. At least you'd be learning something that is immediately transferrable to the real world.
 

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Hey everyone, my first time posting. I have a question, how do you get into industrial controls field/ instrumentation?
To answer your question more directly, two paths bubble to the top among men who I know that do this work. 1) They worked for an OEM machine builder or integrator at the shop, and eventually got into field service work for them. 2) Factory maintenance electricians. There are, of course, electricians who are fortunate enough to have been employed by and trained by contractors who primarily do controls, but that seems pretty rare in my observation. If you want to stay working for contractors, you're going to have to stay on the prowl for contractors who do this work and get hired somehow. You just don't get into it because you have a wish. You need to hunt it down.
 

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There is more to 'doing controls' than programming PLCs. There is also the installation of the PLCs and associated instruments.

This has been the vast majority of my control work over the last 20 years. I design and build the cabinets, run the wire to the instruments, often mount them and hook them up.

I got into this while I was working for a basic commercial/industrial contractor. They did mostly big buildings but were beginning to branch off into water and sewer pump stations and the stuff like that.

They didn't have a control guy, and would simply follow drawings. Which almost always have a multitude or errors.......

I got my break because I sort of became friends with one of the project managers who had some (but not a lot) of knowledge of controls. We talked shop a lot and I shared my knowledge of controls with him. Just casual conversation.

One day, a crew was finishing up a co-gen at the local sewer plant. The system was 2300 volts with 125 DC breaker controls. It was pretty complicated, the gen could be synched from any of 5 different locations. The drawings were pretty horrible.

When they closed in the 125 DC stuff, the synchoscope smoked.

The PM called me into his office showed me the drawings and asked me to look at it.

3 days later, we tested it and it worked as planned.......there were a LOT of mistakes on the drawings......

After that, I was sent to the control part of just about every job they had and they even bid actual control jobs.

BTW, the reason the scope failed was because the drawings called for 125 DC across one of the PT inputs. This must be an AC signal, not DC.

Despite installing hundreds of instruments and PLCs, I've never programmed one. Every place I've worked had their own programmer. All I've ever done with PLCs is install them in cabinets and hook the power and instruments up to them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
That’s really the part of the “controls” I’m really interested in doing. It’s so faciacting to me, I’ve been learning programming at school with a SLC500. I’ve been building panels on the side for a small company, so I have some wiring expirence. It’s just hard to get a job in this aspect of the trade with my experience. I appreciate your guy’s responses. I also think mdskunk is right, it’s going to be a hunt. Thank you
 

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Best way to get in through the electrical side is get involved with controls projects as others have stated. Best way to get those opportunities is to work for an electrical and controls construction company. These places typically employ a ratio of anywhere between 5:1 to 10:1 industrial electricians to instrumentation technicians. If you can get in on the electrical side, a lot of the projects you do will also involve controls.

It's hard to get an instrumentation ticket this way because it's not regulated/doesn't require licensing, so your boss is unlikely to set you up as an apprentice, but many dedicated controls jobs are perfectly fine, even prefer licensed electricians who can also do the controls work.
 

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Get a job as a factory electrician in a manufacturing plant with about 50-100 people. That way the company is large enough to spend money for upgrades, but not large enough to hire engineering firms. This is a luck into position anyway you look at it.


Cowboy
 

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Not sure where you are in the CV but these guys do exactly what you would like to get into. They have a very large shop in Modesto. I would call and drop by and talk with them. You can ask for a job, but I would approach it more from the same angle you have here.

Ask them "How" to get into it. Hopefully you ask the right guy and they will take an interest in you.

http://industrialelectricalco.com/careers/

Foster Farms always seems to be hiring and a lot of the processing facilities might be right now too. With offseason here that is when a large amount of the maintenance takes place, getting ready for next season. Make a list of everything you can think of and start letting the fingers do the walking.
 

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That’s really the part of the “controls” I’m really interested in doing. It’s so faciacting to me, I’ve been learning programming at school with a SLC500. I’ve been building panels on the side for a small company, so I have some wiring expirence. It’s just hard to get a job in this aspect of the trade with my experience. I appreciate your guy’s responses. I also think mdskunk is right, it’s going to be a hunt. Thank you


Don’t be a prima dona. Can’t stand those people on the job that just go to school then come out to the field and not really understand the sensors and actuators that hook up to their PLC.

A good thing to try is attempting to get a job with a service company. You’ll be thrust into new situations daily and forced to learn on the fly. You’ll see tons more than you ever would working in a single factory or just working large projects.

Good luck to you. Oh one more thing, if you’ve got no real world experience pick up an arduino kit. They are cheap and itll have sensors and actors and teach you control concepts, which is way more important than learning any specific system (unless you WANT to be a prima dona)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you all you guys. A lot for me to take in! I love all the different suggestions. It’s nice to hear some encouraging things about that portion of the trade. Along with the different paths it has. My current employer says I’m wasting my time with the controls/automation thing. “ worthless skill” in his words. Anyways
I do have another question though. If I go to work for a system integrator that builds panels and troubleshoots them when needed can I count the hours towards getting my j-man card even though they are not a c-10 contractor?
 

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Look into downloading rs 5 simulator from the learning pit. It's the best resource I have found for learning plcs. And you don't need to actually buy a plc and then buy components to wire to it. The full program costs $50 and if you got even half way through the training package it comes with on the website you would blow %50 of the logic guys out of the water. I say that from personal experience.
 

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Thank you all you guys. A lot for me to take in! I love all the different suggestions. It’s nice to hear some encouraging things about that portion of the trade. Along with the different paths it has. My current employer says I’m wasting my time with the controls/automation thing. “ worthless skill” in his words. Anyways
I do have another question though. If I go to work for a system integrator that builds panels and troubleshoots them when needed can I count the hours towards getting my j-man card even though they are not a c-10 contractor?
I'll double check sometime this week, but I don't think all your hours need to be from a C10 contractor, working in the field is primary. Plenty of electricians here can kick my ass in every aspect of electrical, and have never worked for an EC.

Don't fret a piece of paper, go the direction you want to go and don't look back.

I think of guys like Miromind, Valdes, and many more. They hold more knowledge in their pinky than I do in my whole being. I own a business, and a decent one at that. But never think that the guys actually running it are less. The allow guys like me and many others to succeed. (Not on their backs, but with them).

Forget about what the state and fed tell you, they are a very small part of the equation.
 
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:smile::smile:
The NJATC has a decent program. But you have to be an IBEW member to take it.
Other than that, there's always PLC simulators online, or to download. As far as getting into the field, you need to find a contractor who has maintenance accounts in those facilities with PLC's.

Another idea is to get on the e-mail list of your local A-B/Rockwell supply house. Most of them constantly have control classes for their industrial customers. The will charge you a fee because they have learned that industrial electricians won’t show up unless a fee was invested. They will usually feed you lunch too.
 
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