Image of Mitsubishi iQ automation platform

An article by Mitsubishi Electric considers how the PLC has developed into a control automation platform suitable for Industry 4.0. In doing so, it brings together a wide range of benefits for harmonious integration for users and integrators.

The evolution of the modern control automation platform, commonly with a PLC at its heart, delivers a system that is more than the sum of its constituent parts. It addresses important emerging trends and industry challenges. It is an enabler, allowing manufacturers to drive forward in their journey towards digitalisation and Industry 4.0.

Modern control systems are a mix of controllers, PLCs, inverters, servo components, networking cards, HMIs, I/O modules. Together, they create a machine control solution for process control, positioning, production line automation and even factory-wide coordination.

Most automation vendors will argue the benefits of buying multiple components from one vendor to avoid compatibility issues. Whilst these are perfectly legitimate arguments, even a system of closely matched components can only take you so far. The real benefits come once you look at the possibilities of a complete automation platform.

With the PLC at its heart, the true automation platform minimises TCO at all phases of the automation lifecycle by improving development times, enhancing productivity, reducing waste and maintenance costs and making information more easily accessible throughout the plant.

Dedicated controllers for automation platform

In the Mitsubishi Electric iQ-Platform, class leading PLCs and dedicated multiple dedicated CPUs deliver a single automation control platform on a high-speed bus. Alongside the Logic CPU, is a series of optional controllers. A dedicated CNC CPU satisfies even the most demanding high-mix and low-volume applications for complex machine operations. These include motion control It is capable of positioning, speed, torque, tightening and press-fit, advanced synchronous and cam control.

A dedicated Robot Control CPU is available to improve overall machine productivity. A Process CPU is for control systems requiring high-speed performance coupled with the handling of large PID and control loops. Additionally, a C Controller, provides a reliable, open platform for executing C/C++ applications.

The iQ automation platform can analyse its own health and performance and provide predictive maintenance. Using cloud-storage it extends data storage and processing to the virtual world, recording essential production trend information and delivering moment-by-moment condition monitoring and asset optimisation updates.

A modern automation control platform enables manufacturers to achieve huge gains in productivity while significantly reducing total cost of ownership (TCO). It provides the very best foundation to work from to achieve smart manufacturing and move towards Industry 4.0.

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