Mitsubishi has unveiled the next generation of its iQ Automation integrated control platform, adding CNC and robot control capabilities to the platform’s existing sequence, motion, process and PC-based control functions. The various forms of control share the same backplane and the unified design eliminates the engineering work usually needed to integrate different control disciplines in the same application. The backplane has sufficient bandwidth to provide high-speed, inter-processor communications for multiprocessor architectures.
The new version of the PAC (programmable automation controller) was announced at a meeting in the US last month and is due to arrive in Europe later this year. The various forms of control share the same network interfaces, I/O modules and power supplies, reducing the number of spares that users need to hold, as well as the amount of knowledge and training they need to implement complex control systems.
The controller hardware is complemented by an integrated development environment called iQ Works that can be used to develop and maintain complete systems, regardless of their control discipline. So, for example, a system that integrates motion, sequencing and other components such as HMIs, can be managed using the software, which combines these tools in a single, graphical front-end that guides the user intuitively through system configuration, development and maintenance.
John Browett, Mitsubishi’s product marketing manager in the US, argues that the new controller satisfies many manufacturers’ key requirements. "First, there is a need to drive down costs, which iQ does by standardising all control systems to a unified set of components," he says. "Second, increasing interaction with IT support applications means control systems must handle ever larger data volumes much more quickly. iQ adds the data-handling performance and ease of integration that manufacturers need to minimise their total cost of ownership."