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Home>AUTOMATION>Data Capture>Is Your Automation Architecture Holding Back Your Business?

Is Your Automation Architecture Holding Back Your Business?

07 March 2013

When considering automation in a typical food production plant it would be easy to focus on the obvious areas such as production machinery, conveyors, packaging machines etc. According to Chris Evans, marketing and operations group manager at Mitsubishi Electric, while reliable control of production is vitally important, the real challenges centre on data retrieval and production management.


Every machine or conveyor that is controlled by a programmable device has the capacity to deliver a wealth of information about its performance and vital data for predictive maintenance.

One challenge in the past has often been that different machines coming from different OEM machine manufacturers favour different automation supplier’s equipment. Stronger end users will specify a particular automation platform, but the SME will often end up adopting their ‘non-preferred’ automation platform.

This has led in many cases to disparate automation platforms spread across the production facility which on the face of it at least, makes gathering data efficiently and cost effectively more difficult. The adoption of an open network strategy has offered the possibility of overcoming this issue but only if the chosen network is supported by all the disparate automation platforms.

Many leading automation suppliers favour a particular open network. At Mitsubishi Electric we take a different approach and have Mitsubishi manufactured interfaces

for all of the leading open network standards. This creates end user choice and also means that the Mitsubishi automation platform can be used as a data collection hub, with interfaces to our own or other manufacturers’ equipment made very easy.

Having collected your data to a single or multiple hubs the next issue is the interface to your business systems. In many ways this is the most important stage, as this, if done correctly will change the "data” into "information” that will serve the needs of the business.

In the recent past Mitsubishi has developed innovative solutions to link the plant directly to the enterprise level of the business using technology that is resident in the automation platform, rather than using "gateway PCs,” which has been the typical architecture in the past. This provides a robust, secure and reliable link for that vital production and maintenance data. Having overcome all these stumbling blocks the data can finally start to deliver real value to the business.