Mitsubishi has all automation products in one basket
Sunil Mehta, GM – Automotive Business Development, FAID, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt Ltd, spoke to Milton D’Silva during Automation Expo 2019.
What are the new products Mitsubishi is launching at Automation Expo 2019?
Two things we are introducing here. One is the industrial network technology called CC-Link IE TSN – it is open source and Mitsubishi Electric is the pioneer of this technology which is a time sensitive network. So when you talk of Smart Factory or Industry 4.0, what we at Mitsubishi call e-F@ctory, these networks will be the backbone, like highways, to carry the data, of which a lot is generated on the shop floor. This data has to be carried to the ERP level, so the networks are an essential part of any digitisation or smart manufacturing. In addition to this, we are also launching a new servo product – we have a strong line-up of AC servo systems and are in fact the leaders, with state-of-the-art systems developed and manufactured in Japan. Our motors are also very compact in size. The new series we are launching here is the MR-J5, the latest.
Is the CC-Link a protocol neutral network?
Actually CC-Link is a Mitsubishi protocol but it was made open in the year 2000 and since then many companies have made their products compatible with it. If you see the growth, globally 2706 companies are registered with us as CLPA Partners and almost 2000 products are compatible with this network. So any end user in sectors like automotive, pharma, etc., can choose a product compatible with this network, which as mentioned earlier is the backbone for digitisation. Industrial Ethernet is getting more and more popular with every passing year, and the basic requirement of the industry is a reliable communication media. Wireless is of course of one of the media with WiFi and ZigBee, but the bandwidths are different. When we talk of huge data or big data, there is need for a strong copper wire or fibre optic cable to carry the data, and there are companies like Cisco who support us. They too are partnering with us and have compatible products. In fact this time we have on display here a kit that was recently exhibited in Europe for the first time and it is an actual working model that effectively demonstrates what CC-Link IE TSN can do. So you can see a lot of devices connected on the same cable, and see that a lot of devices can co-exist on the same communication media. For example, a vision system from Cognex, one of the CLPA partners, and their products are easily integrated on our network.
So what you are saying is for any enterprise, it is not difficult to adapt to this for their automation requirements?
Yes, in India during the last two years we could develop 21 partners. Unfortunately, there are not many sensor manufacturers here, but global majors like Balluff are our partners and they are present here in India too. Similarly in pneumatics, SMC and Festo, the two major global players are also our partners, as are other top companies in automation segment.
There was a recent meet of Mitsubishi Electric e-F@ctory in Pune – what was that about?
That was our ‘e-F@ctory Alliance Meet’ of alliance partners in India. e-F@ctory is the Japanese concept of smart manufacturing developed in 2003 and successfully implemented in Mitsubishi Electric’s manufacturing facilities in Japan. It is similar to what the Germans call Industry 4.0 where you connect all the equipment in the plant to the ERP and complete solutions for analytics. So we work with our alliance partners. Mitsubishi is very strong in factory automation products, and our new products like Edgecross and MELIPC are also introduced here at this show. The MELIPC is our series of Industrial PCs manufactured at the Nagoya factory in Japan. Edgecross is our Edge Computing device with built-in artificial intelligence, which sits above the PLCs and HMIs for data gathering and sifting, and immediate decision making.
What about the Maisart?
Maisart is an acronym of Mitsubishi Electric’s Artificial Intelligence state-of-the-art technology. The company is working on artificial intelligence for the last couple of years and in Japan a few products are already developed. Increasingly, AI will play an important role in manufacturing. Maisart is a part of the Edgecross and MELIPC solutions; so when we say analytics, at the backside there is AI in-built into some of our software solutions, which come from Japan.
Mitsubishi is also strong in robotics. Are these also integrated in the e-F@ctory?
Exactly – all our products can easily report to each other, built as they are with state-of-the-art Japanese technology. That includes all our servos, PLCs, HMIs, VFDs, switchgear, energy meters, and of course the robots, which we have also brought to this show. The robots are basically pick-n-place, they are not for weld and paint. These are used in automobile, pharma and other industries like food & beverages, where these are widely deployed for pick-n-place applications. The last two years we have had fantastic growth in our robotic products. Besides industrial robots, we also have collaborative robots, which were launched in India earlier this year in January, at the IMTEX exhibition. So Mitsubishi has this great advantage of having all the automation products in one basket.
Finally, how do you see the company growing in India?
Mitsubishi Electric entered the Indian market only in 2010, and the Factory Automation Division was established at Pune in 2012. We have witnessed fantastic growth during this period and are very optimistic of similar growth in future with all the present government policies. Another aspect is we work in diverse segments like automotive, pharmaceuticals, plastics, packaging, textiles, besides being focussed on process automation, mainly in water treatment plants for building automation, smart cities. Globally we are also in oil & gas segment, but not in India at the moment.
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Next Gen Automation Products for Smart Manufacturing
Mitsubishi Electric, the global leader in electric and electronic equipment for residential, commercial and industrial applications, launched the general-purpose AC Servo MELSERVO-J5 series and also showcased three MELIPC Series industrial-use computer models for Factory Automation (FA) control applications and launched the FR-E800 Series Power Inverters, at the Automation Expo 2019. All the products are compatible with CC-Link IE TSN, which is a high-speed industrial Ethernet network that is time-sensitive. These products will contribute to enhanced machine performance and accelerate the advancement of Smart Factory solutions.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Hisahiro Nishimoto, Director, Division Manager – Factory Automation & Industrial Division, Mitsubishi Electric India Pvt Ltd, said, “We are proud to present the distinctive products having connectivity with various networks that will enable smart factories and infrastructures in different fields. The products launched will contribute to the environment by helping to reduce energy consumption through optimized manufacturing. Mitsubishi Electric will continue working to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and bring greater efficiencies and integration in manufacturing industry by promoting its Smart Manufacturing concept – e-F@ctory along with the Edgecross technology. We are here to deliver performance through our wide product line-up and solutions.”