Mitsubishi Electric's iQ PAC (programmable automation controller) can now integrate all production processes, including robots, in a single, interdisciplinary, automation platform.
Growing demands in all areas of manufacturing are calling for new, more flexible automation systems capable of supporting integrated machine and plant concepts. The iQ is claimed to be the first controller system to provide such comprehensive integration.
The iQ Automation Platform's integrated control concept is based on a powerful multi-processor architecture that includes PLC, motion control, CNC and robot controllers. In multi-processor mode the control and communications tasks are shared by the PLC CPU and up to three additional central processor units, which can be integrated very flexibly.
Just like other controllers, the robot CPU is plugged into the backplane of the iQ as an intelligent module. The controllers communicate with one another via the common backplane bus, giving synchronised data and signal exchange with the processing cycles of the CPUs, with a cycle time of just 0.88 milliseconds.
Integrating the robot controller in a platform that controls both the machine and the robot delivers a number of application and cost benefits. The resulting fast exchange of data and information between the controllers enables optimum connections and synchronisation between the machine and the robot in the production line. The standardised hardware and software technology plus the modular architecture of the iQ make it possible to configure systems more flexibly and to expand the system to handle additional controller tasks as and when necessary.
The new system brings significant savings in engineering because of the integrated communication between the controllers via the common backplane bus and facilitated data transfer to ERP systems via the integrated MES functions without additional configuration. In addition, there are ready-to-use diagnostics functions included in the development software and control terminals, which reduces the need for time-consuming and costly configuration and maintenance work.
In a system controlled by iQ Automation Platform, the conventional robot controller functions as an amplifier, relaying the control signals from the robot CPU to the robot.