Difference Between PLC and RTU

Difference Between PLC and RTU

Difference Between PLC and RTU

What is an RTU?

An RTU, or remote terminal unit, is a type of PLC, or programmable logic controller. It is a little gadget that remotely controls and monitors a process.

RTUs are widely used in industrial settings where having people present would be risky or uncomfortable. Additionally, they are used when a large-scale process has to be handled or monitored.

Pressure, temperature, and motor speed are just a few of the things that RTUs can regulate and monitor. They can also be used to activate or deactivate equipment depending on predetermined parameters.

RTUs are the abbreviation for Remote Terminal Units. They are also referred to as “Remote Telemetry Units.” An RTU is a piece of electrical hardware that is controlled by a microprocessor. Connecting the SCADA to any existing physical objects is the main responsibility of an RTU. Supervision, Control, and Data Acquisition is the abbreviation for. The interface between the connected objects and SCADA is provided by the supervisory system messages, which are used to control all connected items, and the delivery of all telemetry data to the system.

The RTU does not support control loops or control algorithms. The industry has standardised the language for RTU programmers as the capabilities of RTUs and PLCs have started to converge due to more affordable technology.

Additionally, because of their remote settings, where even the power supply is different, they typically run on solar power or batteries. Even so, they consume less energy than a PLC. Compared to PLCs, RTUs offer a larger geographic telemetry.

What is an PLC?

Industrial automation utilises a ruggedized computer known as a Programmable Logic Controller, or PLC. PLCs are digital computers. The majority of their applications include automating electromechanical operations like industrial assembly lines, lighting fixtures, amusement park attractions, etc. They are designed particularly to accommodate different input and output combinations. They are resilient to impact, vibration, and a variety of temperatures.

A few features of PLC include process control, relay control, motion control, networking, etc. When it comes to data handling, processing, connectivity, and storage, they have started to catch up to desktop computers.


Electrical devices with similar functionality include PLCs and RTUs. Similar functions are offered for sale on PLCs and RTCs alike. Since the functional language became a standard in the industry and is now utilised by RTUs and PLCs to execute these programmes, several businesses offer their own proprietary alternatives.

Communication Speed and Data Transfer

Data is sent more quickly by a PLC than by an RTU. A PLC will also be utilised to transmit all process and programming information.

However, RTU will only transmit to it the necessary data and adjustments. In essence, a PLC cycles through its programmes, whereas an RTU operates on an event-driven (trigger-based) basis.


An RTU is far more resistant to attacks and severe weather than a PLC is.

For distant IO applications where wireless data transfer is necessary and the IOs are scattered extensively across the facility, RTU is specifically designed. It is therefore less user-friendly and more effective than a PLC.

Due to their remote settings, where even the power supply is unique, they may also commonly run on solar power or batteries. Even so, they consume less energy than a PLC. Compared to PLCs, RTUs offer a larger geographic telemetry.

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IO Control

The use of RTU for output control is not always used, unlike the use of valves, pumps, motors, etc.

Low power utilisation and sometimes poor wifi networks are the main factors. It’s possible that outputs won’t function properly. The best option in this case is PLC.

Which Situations Are More Appropriate for PLCs or RTUs?

Now that you are aware of the variations between a PLC and an RTU, it’s time to decide which option best meets your needs. In some of these circumstances, PLCs or RTUs might be a better choice.

For larger tasks, such controlling the distribution of electrical power or an assembly line in a factory, a PLC is frequently a preferable choice. The powerful processing capabilities of the PLC are ideal for these types of intricate controllers.

When you need to remotely operate and monitor equipment in more remote locations, such as wind turbines or solar power facilities, an RTU is typically the better option.

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