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Book Review: Cascading Logic

Cascading Logic: A Machine Control Methodology for Programmable Logic Controllers by Gary Kirckof, P.E., published by the ISA.
My rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
Summary: A good but imperfect book

Cascading Logic is a unique book: it is the only intermediate level PLC programming book that I found (I have not found any advanced PLC books).  Sometime I should discuss why I think there are so few intermediate and advanced books (basically, PLC market size and fragmentation), but here is what I expect for each level:

  • Beginner book: an overview of PLC programming, and some discussion on how to do tasks.
  • Intermediate book:  how to put a complete PLC program together and why you should do things a certain way (best practices).
  • Advanced book: how to write the best PLC program, tips and tricks, covers advanced applications such as motion control, interfacing to advanced sensors (such as machine vision), analog I/O, and using advanced PLC instructions.

At $89 for a 206-page book, Cascading Logic is not a good value (unless you can find it used for a decent price), but it is still very much worth reading if you program PLCs professionally.

So what do I think?

  • It’s the only PLC book I found which covers how you should program a PLC (the best practices of PLC programming).
  • It’s not for beginners (in PLC programming or automation); a beginner would have a hard time following the examples.
  • The book is well written overall, but the style is terse.
  • The book builds on concepts to show a pretty complete program that covers most areas needed for a real machine (including operation, startup, errors, maintenance) and how to write code that can  be easily understood and updated.
  • The examples are too narrowly focused on automotive assembly machines; automation is a very broad field.  My PLC usage has nothing in common with the author’s examples.
  • The book only uses basic PLC instructions that all PLC have.  Overall, this is a plus, since it makes the book applicable to all PLCs, and thus a good starting point for any PLC programmer.
  • The book only covers basic systems with pneumatics, binary sensors,  and clutched motors.

I’m very glad I bought the book.  I have a lot of thoughts on PLC and PC automation programming, but I need to finish a series or two first…

1 comment

1 Ladder Logic 102: Organization » AutomationPrimer - An Industrial and Factory Automation Resource { 10.14.12 at 8:05 am }

[…] Tony mentioned in his book review of Cascading Logic by Gary Kirckof (Published by ISA), There really are no truly advanced PLC […]

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