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PLCnext - The control platform for the future…


The factory automation ostrich can no longer bury its head in the sand!

Written by Tony Deane, Technical Manager

That is a rather baffling, outrageous and somewhat inflammatory statement to make. But when set against the backdrop of the incredible technological explosion of the last 10 years of Opensource and high-level language programming and the industry’s insistence to cling on to the restrictive framework of IEC 61131-3, using one of the standard 5 languages of Ladder, Instruction List (IL), Function Block Diagram (FBD), Structured Text (ST) or Sequential Function Chart (SFC), what seems like a provocative jibe takes on a cerebral undertone!

Look at your smartphone. Observe the array of apps installed on your device. At the press of an icon, you can order something online or even control your heating and security at home whilst you are out. Do you realise that these apps, in a large part, are written by some of the brilliant young people graduating from our colleges and universities?

They are written, by and large, in high level languages like C++, C#, Python, Rust. These apps are a product of the open source community. The open source community is an untapped pool of talent, on the whole, locked out of the world of factory automation due to the prevalence of IEC 61131-3 software packages to program Programmable Logic Controllers.

PLC Next Technology by Phoenix Contact has changed the game and opened up the world of factory automation to graduates versed in High Level Language and more importantly opened up this untapped talent pool to the factory automation industry.

Running on its revolutionary Linux operating system- PLCnext allows high level languages (for example C++, C#, Python, Rust) to be combined with traditional IEC 61131-3 languages (FBD, STL, SFC, Ladder) and compiled on a common compiler. This means that traditional PLC code and high-level language programs can be run deterministically on the CPU and even combined in the same task.

As a business owner /principal of a systems integrator or machine builder, this means you can now future proof your business by having the engineers of the present passing their knowledge on whilst working alongside the next generation of programmers, ensuring future innovation and success.

Here is a great presentation by Tony Deane, UK Technical Manager for Phoenix Contact UK and the author of this blog. This shows a real world application solved with PLCnext technology. 

Join the PLCnext community

Now the next generation of programmers can keep up to date as well as contribute via the PLCnext community, the place for all things PLCnext. Here you will find news, industry trends, blogs, user stories, real applications, and support to help get started with PLCnext.

We have also created the PLCnext store which provides numerous software libraries available as apps for PLCnext Engineer, the PLCnext software package. Additionally, you will find several verified 3rd party apps in the field of automation technology, thus enabling integration of more technical functions to PLCnext Control devices directly and easily.

For more information, contact Tony on

Phoenix Contact is a world leader for electronic components, systems and solutions in the field of electrical engineering, electronics and automation. The family-owned company currently employs 17400 people worldwide and achieved a total revenue of 2.38 billion euro in 2018. The headquarters are in Blomberg, Germany. The Phoenix Contact Group consists of nine companies and 55 sales companies. The worldwide presence is also supported by 30 agencies in Europe and overseas.