Mitsubishi Electric has extended its FX3 series of compact PLCs with a further variant of the FX3G mid-range version. Aimed at users wishing to deploy a connected, compact PLC with powerful control capabilities at minimum costs — and with both 24 and 40 I/O variants costing 25 per cent less than the standard configuration — Mitsubishi says the new FX3GE is its most capable, cost-effective compact PLC yet.
There are already standard brick and super compact formats — the FX3G and FX3GC — offering great flexibility through expansion by using FX3's dual bus architecture. Expansion modules can be added on both sides of the CPU giving over 10,000 permutations of system configuration for users to choose from, meaning that the PLC system is configured precisely to the user's needs rather than constrained by product limitations.
Historically PLC connectivity was limited to serial communications (RS232/485) and proprietary networks. But Mistubishi says its new FX3GE CPU now has an Ethernet interface built-in as standard, making it possible to share data at up to 10/100mbps with HMIs and SCADA systems.
With many of these now using OPC driver technologies, connecting disparate elements of hardware and software can quickly and easily be achieved with minimal engineering effort. And with most plants and factories using Ethernet as their standard network topology these days, it makes sense to use the same technology to link automation products together.
Although data and control networks should always be kept separate, familiarity with this technology means that PLC to HMI/SCADA communications are much easier to implement by the user. And using Ethernet also makes it is possible to implement wireless systems with relatively low-cost hardware.
Another feature of the FX3GE is the inclusion of analogue I/O, making control via the FX3 PID algorithm easy and effectively a zero cost option. Giving users the choice of saving on space and parts inventory by including Ethernet and analogue features in a CPU, or having a totally flexible system of separate components, means that the customer only pays for the features they require when the need them, so making their systems even leaner and more competitive.
The FX3GE is programmed by the GXWorks2 software which offers total flexibility and choice, allowing the designer to choose a simple ladder style programming method, or the more advanced structured style. And the FX3GEis also included in the iQWorks software, allowing users to easily configure systems using Mitsubishi's GOT1000 HMIs and motion products as well as the FX3 PLCs in a single, integrated software package.