My name is Jim Clarke. I am the face behind PLCtrainingKIT.nl

Brought up in a small London shop, I went off to study Physics and scuba diving in Leeds. The Cutty Sark in Greenwich was the backdrop to my first post in a small electronics company which installed automation in the huge coal and steel industries. Lunchtimes provided a wonderful opportunity to learn business as well as engineering in an intimate setting, while commissioning trips taught me the raw scale and power of what we needed to control.

Later I was selling big control systems before taking a leap into teaching in a mixed 11 to 18 year old school. I had a mission to improve education, which proved more difficult than I expected.

Having found love in the Netherlands, I went again through engineering, business and college teaching, this time in Dutch!
When I experienced a massive gap in the available teaching materials for PLC training, this was a siren calling upon my life’s experiences. If I could not buy what the students needed, I could design it and make it. Knowing that other teachers had the same problems, I decided to market the equipment that 800 students had already successfully used.


My story

Learning PLC programming

In 1976 my first job involved commissioning PLC systems in the UK coal and steel industries. These replaced unmaintainable relay systems and noise sensitive transistor logic circuits. Programming meant taking an A4 sized PCBs and wrapping wires around pin pairs for each “on” bit. There were eight possible instructions, which were soon used to invent sequential flow charts. A patch was literally another area of wires. Every bit of I/O was expensive and to be carefully considered.

A stint in sales taught me the difficulty of demonstrating a PLC to the uninitiated. The early eighties found me in a London school teaching science to 11 to 18 year olds. By the end of the decade, in the Netherlands, PLCs provided my living again, this time designed into high voltage test equipment. The PLC languages were advancing and communication modules were available to talk to PCs.

At a university of applied sciences I was asked to set up a PLC course. The market offered three hardware options:

  • Very simple trainers, with a few lamps and switches, were available which might serve to try out the programming environment. These certainly offer no insight into system design or complexity.
  • At the other end of the spectrum expensive electromechanical installations the size of a table provided flexible playgrounds, but required a great deal of study on the installation itself. Further they are rarely likely to be ready for the next class.
  • The third commercially available option were lap top simulations. In my experience in the class room, many students struggle to learn a new concept, while switching between five or six unfamiliar windows all simulating various connected system components.
Learning to program ZelioSoft2

At this juncture I was driven to design and produce my own hardware, which has been successfully used with some 800 students. An important priority in PLC selection was easy (administration free) software installation for school and homework, on low-end laptops. Scenarios were chosen which would already be familiar to students and provide a range of complexity suited school children through to university students. I also determined that students must learn to write programs which deal with (simulated) sensor and actuator failures. To this end motors must be dimensioned to be held back with no damage to equipment or fingers. The whole apparatus must fit in a robust portable case which is instantly ready for the next class. Just when I thought my career was slowing down, PLCtraingKIT.nl was born to share this experience and the tried and tested lessons.

The goal

PLCtrainingKIT was born to fill our teaching needs when we could not find an appropriate PLC trainer on the market. Until now the market offered either trivially simple boxes or very expensive, enormous hardware.
We have developed a stackable desktop case containing a PLC and four familiar scenarios. A train crossing, a car park, an elevator and a chocolate drink factory are chosen enabling the student to concentrate on programming rather than familiarising with the scenarios.
Still a great deal of analysis is required to deal with fault conditions, communication and human machine interaction.
All the wiring is done (including hall sensors, optical sensors, motors, displays digital and analogue i/o).
All a student needs to do is download the licence free software to begin programming or simulating at home.
Descriptions, manuals, i/o tables and programming tips are all freely available on the website along with the tasks and teacher guides.

Logo PLCtrainingKIT.nl v4 zonder achtergrond PNG
Tax (BTW) NL863412622B01 KvK nr.  84851120
Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms of Services
  • Youtube

  • Trijnesstraat 9, 5809 AR Leunen The Netherlands

  • Linkedin

  • +31 6 15 67 06 65

  • Instagram

  • info@plctrainingkit.nl

Translate »
Scroll to Top