Last Updated S012019


Unit Code ME502
Unit Duration 1 Term (online) or 1 Semester (on-campus)

Graduate Diploma of Engineering (Industrial Automation)
Duration: 1 year

Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation)
Duration: 2 years   

Year Level 1st
Unit Creator / Reviewer Dr. Steve Mackay
Core/Sub-Discipline: Core
Pre/Co-requisites None
Credit Points

Grad Dip total course credit points = 24
(3 credits x 8 (units))

Masters total course credit points = 48
(3 credits x 12 (units) + 12 credits (Thesis))

Mode of Delivery On-Campus or Online
Unit Workload 10 hours per week:
     Lecture - 1 hour
     Tutorial Lecture - 1 hour
     Practical / Lab - 1 hour (where applicable)
     Personal Study recommended - 7 hours (guided and unguided)

Unit Description and General Aims

This subject provides the fundamentals of programmable controllers used in industrial
automation. The subject covers in-depth principles, programming and operation of programmable controllers,
networking, distributed controllers, and programming control strategies. Students will
undertake project work to design an industrial process automation solution in the form of their 4th assignment.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject/unit, students are expected to be able to:

  1. Evaluate and select programmable controllers and associated hardware equipment
    for a process control application.
    Bloom’s Level 5
  2. Develop control programs for a process application and troubleshoot.
    Bloom’s Level 6
  3. Evaluate and select programmable controller hardware, software and control program
    techniques for complex control applications such as high-speed control, machine
    vision, safe and reliable (redundancy) control.
    Bloom’s Level 5
  4. Examine program optimization techniques to address hardware and software
    limitations, use of high-level programming languages, and programming specialized
    intelligent expansion modules.
    Bloom’s Level 5
  5. Evaluate and select communication architecture for process control applications.
    Bloom’s Level 5
  6. Design and specify safety control systems for an industrial process control
    Bloom’s Level 6

Student assessment

Assessment Type
(e.g. Assignment - 2000 word essay (specify topic)
Examination (specify length and format))
(e.g. Week 5)
(% of total
unit marks)

Assignment 1

Type: Report / Group work / Short answer questions /
Case study
Example topics: Short answer questions
demonstrating a deep understanding of the body of
knowledge on programmable controllers and
programming control applications.

Week 5 15% 1, 2

Assignment 2

Type: Multi-choice test / Group work / Short answer
questions / Role Play / Self-Assessment /
Example topics: Short answer questions
demonstrating the use of PLC program packages and
languages via application to typical control
applications. 2 hours

Week 7 20% 3, 4

Assignment 3 - Practical Participation

Example: May be in the form of quizzes, class tests,
practical assessments, remote labs, simulation
software or case studies

(due Week 10)
30% 1, 2, 3, 4,
5, 6

Assignment 4

Type: Report / Research / Paper / Case Study / Site
Visit / Problem analysis / Project / Professional
Example topics: (Project) Design hardware and
software programmable controller algorithm for a
given process application.
(Student will simulate and troubleshoot the program,
demonstrate the program to the facilitator and submit a
report of 3000 words excluding figures, tables and
program listing) 2 weeks

Final Week 30% 1, 2, 3, 4,
5, 6

Attendance / Tutorial Participation

Example: Presentation, discussion, group work, exercises, self-assessment/reflection, case study analysis, application.

Continuous 5% 1, 2, 3, 4,
5, 6

Prescribed and Recommended Readings

Required textbook

  • D. Patil, (2013) AU-E Practical Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) for Automation and Process Control,
    Rev. 4.2, IDC Technologies
  • Bolton, W., (2015) Programmable Logic Controllers, 6th Edition. Newnes.
    ISBN: 978-0128029299

Recommended textbooks

  • Bryan, LA, Bryan, EA, (1997) Programmable Controllers - Theory and Implementation, 2nd
    edition, Industrial Text Company Publication, USA ISBN 0-944107-32-X
  • Kelvin T. Erickson (2011) Programmable Logic Controllers: An Emphasis on Design and
    Application ISBN: 978-0976625926
  • MacDonald, D., 2004, Practical Machinery Safety: Elsevier - ISBN: 9780750662703

Reference Materials
Number of peer-reviewed journals and websites (advised during lectures). Some examples are listed

  • International journal of information and computer science
  • Examples include but not limited to IEEE publications, International Journal of Automation and
    Control. These are peer-reviewed journals. Other relevant peer-reviewed journals will be
  • IDC notes and Reference texts as advised.
  • Other material advised during the lectures

Unit Content

One topic is delivered per contact week, with the exception of part-time 24-week units, where one topic is delivered every two weeks.

Topic 1

Procedure to install Codesys prior to Topic 1

  1. Visit Codesys Store at  and create a student account for yourself
  2. Page to  and choose correct version to download
  3. Install on your PC

PLC reviews

  1. PLC basics
  2. Codesys - please download and install on your laptop / PC.


  1. We will start using Codesys right from the start 
  2. Codesys is also available on some on-line labs    

Topics 2 and 3

Introduction to programmable controllers

  1. Programmable controllers and their applications
  2. Principles of operation of a controller
  3. Components of a programmable controller system
  4. Discrete input/output systems
  5. Analog input/output systems
  6. Special function input/output systems


Topics 4, 5 and 6

Controller programming

  1. Programming languages and standards
  2. Controller functions and advanced programming functions
  3. Control strategy, planning and designing control programs
  4. System programming, implementation and documentation
  5. Programming and troubleshooting
  6. Programming for special function input/output modules


Topic 7

Programmable controller Implementation in the real world

      1. Primary loop control and interlocking
      2. Field devices, communication networks, interfacing to enterprise systems
      3. Distributed control systems and configurations
      4. Reliability issues, cost issues, program and data backup
      5. Power supply requirements

Topic 8

Special function I/O and intelligent peripheral devices

  1. Fast response input/output and timer/counter/encoder modules
  2. Stepper motor control and machine vision control
  3. Future trends on smart instruments
  4. Highway Addressable Remote Transducer (HART)
  5. ASCII and intelligent communications devices

Topic 9

Advanced programming

  1. Program optimization needs and techniques of implementing optimization
  2. Programmable automations controllers, soft programmable controllers
  3. High-level language programming, simulation and modeling
  4. Programming special function modules

Topic 10

Communication networks

  1. Common industrial protocols
  2. Future trends in industrial data communications
  3. Field bus
  4. Communication network design and implementation

Topic 11

Programmable controller installation – good practices

  1. Controller system layout
  2. Power requirements and safety circuits
  3. Noise, heat and voltage considerations (Input/output wiring, power supplies and industrial control panel layouts)
  4. Control room requirements
  5. Start-up procedures and commissioning a control system
  6. System maintenance and troubleshooting

Topic 12

Safety programmable controller systems

  1. Introduction to safety PLCs
  2. Architectures of Safety PLCs
  3. Characteristics of Safety PLCs
  4. Hardware and software characteristics of safety PLCs
  5. Redundant architectures for high reliability
  6. Application Software for Safety PLC
  7. Project and Course Review

 In the final week, students will have an opportunity to review the contents covered so far. An opportunity will be provided for a review of student work, to clarify any outstanding issues, and to work on finalizing the major assessment report.


Engineers Australia

The Australian Engineering Stage 1 Competency Standards for the Professional Engineer, approved as of 2013. This table is referenced in the mapping of graduate attributes to learning outcomes and via the learning outcomes to student assessment.

Stage 1 Competencies and Elements of Competency
1. Knowledge and Skill Base
1.1 Comprehensive, theory based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical
sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the engineering discipline.
1.2 Conceptual understanding of mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences which underpin the engineering discipline.
1.3 In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline.
1.4 Discernment of knowledge development and research directions within the engineering discipline.
1.5 Knowledge of engineering design practice and contextual factors impacting the engineering discipline.
1.6 Understanding of the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of sustainable engineering practice in the specific discipline.
2. Engineering Application Ability
2.1 Application of established engineering methods to a complex engineering problem-solving.
2.2 Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources.
2.3 Application of systematic engineering synthesis and design processes.
2.4 Application of systematic approaches to the conduct and management of engineering
3. Professional and Personal Attributes
3.1 Ethical conduct and professional accountability.
3.2 Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains.
3.3 Creative, innovative and pro-active demeanor.
3.4 Professional use and management of information.
3.5 Orderly management of self, and professional conduct.
3.6 Effective team membership and team leadership.

Software / Hardware Used


  • Codesys Version

Installation Instructions


  N / A

Students to install Codesys prior to Topic 1 - we will be using CodeSys from day 1