Fifty years of powering the world

July 2018 News

Schneider Electric is celebrating 50 years of automation transformation, with its invention in 1968 of the first PLC. Prior to the introduction of the PLC, the level of real-time measurement and control was limited to the most basic levels due to technology constraints.

Schneider Electric chairman and CEO, Jean-Pascal Tricoire.
Schneider Electric chairman and CEO, Jean-Pascal Tricoire.

“On the 50th anniversary of the invention of the first PLC, it would be hard to imagine where our industry would be today without the PLC system. It is used in transportation, manufacturing, energy management and so many other industries. I am proud to have this legacy and be part of Schneider Electric’s DNA,” says Schneider Electric chairman and CEO, Jean-Pascal Tricoire.

The invention initiated the effective use of digital computer technologies in industrial automation, which triggered a massive transformation to the pervasive use of digital technology to deliver industrial measurements, controls and real-time information management.

The use of digital technology introduced capability well beyond basic measurement and control to expand control system functionality by utilising the computing power of this innovative technology. Today the use of digital technology is so pervasive that new engineers find it almost impossible to imagine an industrial automation world without it. However, it is important to take a step back occasionally and remember the achievements that made our current capabilities possible, and this is one of those times.

Throughout the 50 years following the invention of the PLC, the expansion capability delivered by automation systems appears to be limited only by human imagination. The results have been the introduction and common use of capabilities and functions that were not previously considered possible. These include advanced process control, process optimisation, manufacturing execution systems, inferential measurement systems, safety control, condition management, process historians, workflow control, batch management, real-time accounting, real-time profitability control, and many others.

Industrial automation is a relatively recent technology field, which continues to undergo major transitions and advancements. It is exciting to look at new inventions that drive new levels of operational and business value. Customers can start their journey to new levels of productivity, safety and cybersecurity by upgrading their PLC automation systems to the latest Modicon EcoStruxure Control Expert based platforms, formerly known as Unity Pro.

The PLC upgrade and migration solutions preserve customers’ automation hardware and software investment, whether they are starting from the legacy Modicon, SquareD, Telemecanique PLCs or from many other third-party platforms. Software conversion solutions preserve the look and feel of the original application to streamline investment and promote staff familiarity.

For more information contact Jason Ullbricht, Schneider Electric SA, +27 (0)11 254 6400,


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