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PLC module connects automation to higher-level business systems

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Mitsubishi Electric is introducing a C Connector PLC module that cuts through the layers of a plant-wide automation system and delivers real-time data directly to users' ERP and MES systems.

Modern manufacturing processes rely as much on physical automation as they do on communications protocols to integrate production in a seamless process. However, communication to higher-level business systems is fragmented, as layers of PCs and systems need to be navigated to finally deliver data at the plant's ERP or MES centre.

Mitsubishi Electric's C Connector PLC module simplifies making the essential link between automation systems and higher-level databases, ERP applications and MES applications such as SAP. Production data can therefore be easily monitored and recorded, and higher-level production decisions more easily implemented, thereby helping to increase plant visibility and boost productivity.

For the automation engineer the C Connector is intuitive to use while, for enterprise and logistics personnel, the information is presented in a manner that is readily usable and understandable.

Bidirectional data exchange

The C Connector facilitates direct, bidirectional data exchanges between a PLC and the higher-level systems to simplify the collection, storage and monitoring of field data within the business application, and the sending of instructions directly to the plant floor.

Eliminating the need for intermediate PC hardware and its inherent infrastructure and IT vulnerabilities - such as virus scanner maintenance, OS upgrades and incompatibilities, hardware failures and operator abuse - the C Connector runs directly on Mitsubishi Electric's iQ controller, where it has direct access to live process data and all connected I/O. Here it can also be used to collect data from other automation devices in the field such as RFID sensors, barcode reader, weighing systems or vision systems (cameras).

Setting up bidirectional communications is said to be as simple as selecting an integration template for the target system from the extensive library of preconfigured templates. These cover many different SAP systems including direct BAPI interfacing, MII connection, web services and even PCO connection is planned. Data can also be output as standard CSV, Excel or XML files. This eliminates the need for detailed knowledge of the target system and its interfaces, thereby simplifying integration overhead.

Mitsubishi Electric's Jeremy Shinton comments: "The ability to make correct production decisions, to enhance quality and to ensure full traceability depends on making plant-floor data readily available to higher level systems.

"Traditionally, connectivity to ERP systems such as SAP was fragmented, but the C Controller simplifies and strengthens the link making it reliable, robust and secure. After all, why put a weak link in your system hierarchy when you can get your high-reliability systems (SAP and PLC) talking directly?"

For further information about the C Connector PLC module, go to www.automationsolutions.mitsubishielectric.co.uk.

15 February 2012

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