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New iQ Works tool improves automation system design

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Mitsubishi Electric is launching its updated MELSOFT iQ Works integrated engineering suite, which it describes as an alternative approach to automation system design that reduces engineering time, effort and costs, and helps to reduce the total cost of ownership.

A key challenge for today's automation engineers is to develop advanced production lines and then maintain them at optimum efficiency over the whole product lifecycle. Companies aspiring to world-class productivity standards need ever more flexible and sophisticated lines and machines, with an emphasis on the highest levels of availability. But increased sophistication brings with it increased development complexity, increased maintenance requirements, and an ongoing challenge for upgrades as part of a continuous improvement programme.

Conventionally, engineers would need separate software tools for upper-level system design, PLC program development, motion system design, visualisation, project development, and further tools still for aspects such as robotics and CNC. While any given tool may be ideal for an individual aspect of the project, the need to learn and use many different programming tools can become a problem. Furthermore, integrating all of those disparate items into a complete automation system requires an almost superhuman ability to visualise the complete project.

Then, of course, there is the maintenance aspect. Maximising overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) depends on the ability to minimise downtime and maximise machine availability – something which can only be hampered when it involves using multiple software tools, often in many different locations.

Unified engineering environment

But what is the alternative to working with multiple programs for the different programs, devices, networks and settings in a given application? The answer is to bring all of these elements together, and enable all system development and maintenance activities to be carried out on the entire automation system using a single tool from a single location. Mitsubishi Electric has updated the MELSOFT iQ Works integrated engineering suite to provide a unified engineering environment for all automation system development and maintenance. The new version of iQ Works provides a universal tool for PLC, HMI, drives, servo, motion, robotics and CNC programming, providing an application focus where users can develop and maintain complete production lines from a single location.

MELSOFT iQ Works brings together Mitsubishi Electric's familiar automation software tools, including MELSOFT Navigator, GX Works2, MT Works 2 and GT Works3. It provides an intuitive, easy-to-use environment that makes it simple to drill down into the application, with a seamless graphical interface that brings structure to any project, from the simplest to the most complex automation system.

At the heart of iQ Works, the Navigator simplifies the task of system organisation, enabling easy design of the entire upper-level systems, with advanced functions such as batch parameter setting, system labels, batch read-all and tagging. It also integrates the other MELSOFT programs included with iQ Works.

GX Works2 enables configuration, programming and maintenance of Mitsubishi Electric FX and Q series programmable controllers. Users can select from MELSEC Ladder, MELSEC SFC, IEC Ladder or Structured Text programming languages as appropriate for the project, and can mix and match these languages within an automation system. The environment conforms to IEC 1131-3 standards, and provides the facilities to store and reuse functions, function blocks, programs and structures within future projects.

MT Works2 provides an intuitive environment for motion system design, programming development, start-up, operation and maintenance. It is intended for use with the full suite of Mitsubishi Electric Q Series motion controllers, including iQ Platform products and standalone motion controllers. This latest development of the software provides a program debug mode and a digital oscilloscope function, simplifying the testing of motion SFC programs, servo programs and mechanical system programs. Other key features include the ability to import, export and visually modify CAM profiles.

GT Works3 is Mitsubishi Electric's design and configuration tool for GOT1000 series HMIs, providing a simple and intuitive programming environment where users can develop their visualisation projects. GT Works3 provides simple navigation around multiple and complex projects. The standard graphics library offers a broad collection of visualisation elements, while an enhanced library tree that helps users find the right element more quickly. After screen development is complete, one-touch simulation enables developers to debug and verify their projects using real-time variables and conditions.

By providing a single tool to cover all aspects of system development and maintenance, iQ Works reduces engineering time, cost and effort, which brings down total cost of ownership of the project. Engineers and technicians have access to all system aspects in a single place, and for large-scale projects efficiency is further increased by being able to work on the entire system from one location.

For more information about the MELSOFT iQ Works integrated engineering suite, go to www.automationsolutions.mitsubishielectric.co.uk.

24 November 2011

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