em4 high-performance nano-PLC is ready for Internet of Things

Crouzet Automation is launching the em4 high-performance nano-PLC that can communicate as part of the Internet of Things (IoT). According to Crouzet, the em4 is more than just an innovative, high-performance and easy-to-use nano-PLC; it constitutes a real growth platform for OEMs and integrators who are looking for an easy way to move their application into the digital era. It opens up a new ready-to-use infrastructure to them, plus an ecosystem of online tools and services, creating new added value for their customers.

The em4 is designed to complement the current range of Millenium 3 logic controllers.

Aware of the challenges presented by machine-to-machine technology, the development team identified in its existing and prospective customers - specialists in small machinery and equipment - a strong need for connectivity of their installations. It was also apparent that they needed to stand out from the crowd in their markets, mainly by proposing new services for their customers. The new nano-PLC also needed to offer teh same benefits as other products in the Crouzet Automation range: ease of use, adaptability, application-orientation and exceptional technical support.

Sébastien de Peretti, the General Manager of Custom Sensors and Technologies' Automation business unit, has no hesitation in talking revolution when he mentions em4: "This new type of offer meets our customers' key expectations on different markets! This is why we are proposing a unique offer which is totally new, based on a nano-PLC."

This new nano-PLC, which can be fully remotely controlled, has a set of innovative features allowing Crouzet Automation to provide its customers with not just a product, but new expansion potential. The company believes that the em4 has all the ingredients to support its system integrator and OEM customers in implementing new cost-effective models.

A simple, accessible and compact product, the em4 can provide new service opportunities to customers who wish to make a difference on their market, in particular by allowing the sale of associated services (the business model often referred to as servitization).

Three versions of the em4

For this reason, Crouzet Automation has created three versions of the em4 and has rolled out 'em4 lab', an environment similar to a 'toolbox' including all tools, services and partners. It enables customers to reinvent their applications and generate new business opportunities.

The em4 has been conceived and designed to make a totally integrated control system available to integrators and OEMs, enabling them to connect their devices via the internet on demand, without adding additional modules.

The em4 range comprises the following:

  • em4 remote: fully connected to the secure infrastructure
  • em4 alert: capable of sending SMS or email alerts
  • em4 local: designed for applications that do not require remote communication or only a local area network

One of the main strengths of the em4 remote, the flagship product in the range, lies in being connected to the internet and offering programming, monitoring and control, and datalogging functions for remote management of an application, a single machine or a fleet of machines. Crouzet Automation says that this is how the em4 differs from other commercially-available alternatives: the em4 is part of the Internet of Things and opens up a world of communication capabilities to all customers, even those without experience of managing network infrastructure or complex automation systems. In this sense, the em4 remains true to one of Crouzet Automation's key values: easy to use.

In terms of data exchange, the em4 has no embedded web server, but operates on a machine-to-machine connection. This is essentially an exchange of raw data between the controller and the dedicated server. Communication is therefore optimised and the server's memory space is prioritised over the em4's embedded memory.

Like its built-in communication capabilities, the em4 is proposed as a complete system comprising: the nano-PLC, a SIM card, data exchanges and remote access (em4 web and em4 app).

em4 lab

The em4 lab consists of an environment that enables the integrator and customer to benefit from a dedicated resources and services area. André Chovin, the em4 product marketing manager, states: "In this way Crouzet Automation is providing its customers with service offers combined with em4, arising from collaborations with our partners, that have been tested, validated and documented."

The em4 lab is based on four founding pillars:

em4 soft, which is claimed to be the most intuitive software on the market. It is functionally compatible with the M3 Soft software, a cornerstone of the Millenium 3 range which has been well received by users and has contributed hugely to its success. The em4 soft programming tool can read and offer translation of programs created using M3 Soft. One of

the strengths of em4 soft lies in the application-specific function blocks that make programming particularly quick and easy, not to mention the ability to program all communication directly from the same software, simply and in graphical form.

em4 web, which provides access to the application from a simple web browser anywhere, anytime. This is a platform where the user can, for example, grant access rights to his customers in both runtime and maintenance phases, and also control, monitor and manage data from his application parameters if appropriate.

em4 app, which offers access from a smartphone, especially event management in push mode, plus simplified local or remote control, by using a QR code on the product.

The em4 partners community, which can provide an application with extra functionality via peripheral automation components (such as, for example, the insertion of Kavlico Pressure Sensors products, one of Crouzet Automation's partners), and also design additional services for the end customer, such as a remote management platform or a smartphone application customised with their colours.

Typically, the em4 lab meets the needs of both OEMs and their customers who wish to manage several machines as a fleet. The machines are then accessible at a single point on the server - for example, to simplify compilation of data as statistics. The 'on-demand' server connection can also be used to locate a faulty installation. It is equally possible to benefit from geolocation (via triangulation using the telecommunications network), which is useful for managing a fleet of mobile machines. In addition, trhe em4 lab offers the potential for simplifying the management of events and alarms.

More specification highlights

In the class of programmable logic controllers with fewer than 50 I/O, Crouzet Automation says the em4 is the first such device that can interact with high-precision industrial sensors operating at 0-20 or 4-20mA. These robust inputs embedded directly in the product avoid measurement errors linked to the distance between sensor and controller, while ensuring 1 per cent measurement accuracy.

As well as a 32-bit processor, the em4 has double the memory capacity of the Millenium 3 and a cycle time five to ten times faster.

Identical in size to the Millenium 3, the em4 stands out with its high-tech design with clean, smooth lines inspired by the interface on devices with which the general public are already familiar. The em4 is offered with a choice of a black or white casing.

In addition, the em4 is mechanically interchangeable with other commercially-available automation control modules and smart relays. This means it can be integrated seamlessly in existing machines.

Development background

The em4 was developed under the auspices of the French Single Interministerial Fund (FUI) run by the Minalogic competitive cluster. It is a joint development in partnership with leading public research laboratories (INRIA Grenoble and Grenoble INP) and innovative French companies (Motwin and Vertical M2M).

The aim of this partnership is to link the worlds of automation, computing, telecommunications and networks, to offer users remote management of their devices that is both simpler and more comprehensive. Crouzet Automation says the em4 represents the first stage of a singularly innovative project, using cutting-edge technologies to serve industrial and professional machine manufacturers.

Fore more information about the em4 high-performance nano-PLC go to www.em4-remote-plc.com.

Crouzet Ltd

8 Cedarwood, Chineham Business Park
Crockford Lane
RG24 8WD

+44 (0)1256 318900



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