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Home arrow Product News arrow Mitsubishi Electric puts four high-performance controllers on a single platform
Mitsubishi Electric puts four high-performance controllers on a single platform Print E-mail
Written by Karin Müller   
Saturday, 05 April 2008
Mitsubishi Electric at the Hannover Messe, Hall 11, Booth C47

Ratingen: Ever more stringent demands for production quality and fast delivery, continuing cost pressures and shorter product cycles are all increasing the need for efficient and flexible factory automation solutions. At the Hannover Messe 2008 Mitsubishi Electric is presenting the new iQ platform: In a class of its own worldwide, this highly-integrated controller concept is designed specifically for the needs of factory automation.

The powerful microprocessor technology unites four different controller types - programmable logic control, motion control, CNC and robot control - in a single integrated automation platform, enabling fast and reliable communication between the individual manufacturing systems. This all-in solution, which also supports the established standard technologies of the modular MELSEC System Q platform, makes it possible to configure finely-tailored automation solutions for everything from stand-alone systems to complete production lines. The seamless integration of the components ensures maximum productivity.

Innovative system components
The key components of the iQ platform are the new processor modules for the four different "control disciplines". In multi-processor mode the control and communication tasks are shared by one PLC CPU and up to three other flexibly-combinable central processing unit (CPU) modules. For the first time it is now possible to combine not only motion control but also CNC and robot controllers with a PLC on a single platform. The powerful latest-generation processors needed faster communications channels for the large volumes of data they are capable of handling: In the iQ system the CPU modules thus exchange data cyclically via a new high-speed bus in the backplane, accessing a common memory with a capacity of 14,000 words. The communication via the back-plane bus is synchronised with the data processing clock rate of the processors, with a cycle period of just 0.88 milliseconds.

Other components of the iQ platform include an interface module for the high-speed network CC-Link IE (Control and Communication Link Industrial Ethernet), the open Industrial Ethernet standard with gigabit technology and the graphical touch-screen control terminals of the GOT1000 series, which feature many new functions to support Mitsubishi Electric's integrated controller concept.

Step-by-step optimisation
The two new backplanes, one with eight slots the other with twelve, feature both the new high-speed bus and the same system bus used in the existing MELSEC System Q platform. This backplane bus enables the flexible expansion of the iQ platform with expansion and special function modules. Nearly a hundred different I/O, special function and networking modules are available. The existing standard, PC and process CPU modules - for example for redundant controller architectures and high-level language programming - also use this communication channel and are thus compatible with the new system. This protects existing investments in modular controller technology, enabling manufacturers to optimise their production processes one step at a time.

The controller is programmed with the completely overhauled GX Developer 2 software package. The latest version of this popular PLC development environment for all Mitsubishi Electric's compact and modular controllers supports the IEC 61131-3 programming standard and the Function Block, Ladder Diagram, Instruction List, Structured Text and Sequential Function Chart languages. Many new functions and diagnostics and simulation tools make programming fast and efficient and also support smooth communication between the different controller systems.

Vertical and horizontal integration
Integration of PLC, motion control, CNC and robot control functions in an integrated hardware and software environment brings some very significant advantages over conventional automation solutions with separate controllers connected via a network. The standardised technology speeds up planning, installation and configuration, makes diagnostics and maintenance easier, reduces training requirements and supports flexible plant concepts with the option for later changes. This reduces installation and operation costs whilst simultaneously improving the reliability and efficiency of the production systems, not least thanks to the faster data transfer rates.

However, this seamless communication does not start and end on the shop floor: The iQ platform is fully integrated in Mitsubishi Electric's e-F@ctory concept, the central feature of which is an integrated flow of information between the control systems on the automation level and the tools used in production and business planning. Two simple, reasonably-priced technologies are available for connecting the production level with a corporate manufacturing execution system (MES): the MES Interface Module for modular controllers and the MES Interface Function for the GOT1000 series of HMI control terminals. Both solutions replace conventional gateway computers and the associated high programming overheads. This full horizontal and vertical integration offers significant potential for productivity increases, particularly in factory automation solutions.

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