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New breed of PLC is small on size, large on performance

21 March 2012

The new L series PLC from Mitsubishi Electric provides all the performance, functions and capabilities necessary for today’s demanding machine automation requirements in a compact, modular, rack-free package. Bridging the gap between the FX compact PLC and the iQ platform high performance PAC, the new modular controller combines much of the power of a Q series CPU, with the ease of expansion and user-centric design inspired by the FX.

Every L series CPU provides as standard; 24 points of on board I/O, a 2-channel high speed counter, 2-axes of positioning, pulse catch and interrupt functions, Ethernet  connectivity and built-in data logging.

The built-in positioning function has a start time of just 30µs, with a maximum high-speed output of 200k pulses per second, and features such as S-curve acceleration and deceleration, meeting the needs of complex machine positioning applications.

The built-in data logging function provides a simple means of collating OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) data, energy monitoring, sequencing and production traceability, with the facility to store this data to SD memory card using the integral memory card slot. The same memory card slot also makes it easy to back up or load the CPU programs and parameters.
The built-in Ethernet communications port provides a simple interface to the enterprise level, seamless peer to peer communications and direct connectivity to other devices such as HMIs. Logged data can also be retrieved via this port using FTP commands.
All of these innovative and sophisticated features are included at no extra cost and offer many benefits to the machine builder.

The CPU has a basic operation processing speed of better than 9.5ns per instruction and this makes it ideally suited to high speed machine applications. 

This high level of performance comes hand in hand with ease of use. The base CPU for example, can incorporate a 16-character by 4-line display, providing convenient monitoring and easy access to diagnostic information both for the CPU and any connected I/O modules, without the need to connect a PC or software.

Users can check the system status and make setting changes directly from the display. Error status is clearly identified and error investigation can be readily performed from the detailed historic information, reducing downtime and speeding up diagnosis of machine problems.

A key feature of the L series is its easy expandability. The integrated backplane means that expansion modules can simply snap-on to the CPU without the need for a base unit, with the assembly mounting on a standard DIN rail. The system can be expanded up to a total of 40 expansion modules. The expansion options include motion control modules, analogue I/O modules and temperature control modules.
To meet the needs of advanced motion control applications, Mitsubishi Electric has developed a new motion module for the L Series that provides high-speed, high precision control of up to sixteen axes per module over Mitsubishi’s SSCNET III servo controller network. The CPU can accommodate multiple motion modules and can consequently provide many axes of control, with capabilities including a cam function, phase compensation, mark detection and 600 points of user-defined positioning data.

The high-speed analogue modules have been designed to provide a conversion speed of just 20µs per channel, with a precision of ±0.1%. Temperature control modules provide highly stable regulation performance, with functions including heating/cooling control, peak current suppression, self-tuning, simultaneous temperature rise, selectable sampling cycle and a temperature input mode.

Providing seamless communication through all levels of a network hierarchy, the L series combines enterprise, control and sensor level networks as standard through on-board Ethernet and interfaces to CC-Link IE Field, CC-Link and Modbus, allowing easy access to information no matter where it resides on the network.  CC-Link IE Field is an Ethernet-based gigabit network designed to provide cost-effective, reliable connectivity to field devices.

Combining the L Series with other Mitsubishi products such as the GOT HMIs and Inverter Drives, offers the machine builder a sophisticated, cost effective, integrated control platform.

For ease of programming, the L series is fully compatible with iQ Works and GX Works2 software, simplifying set-up, configuration and maintenance.

iQ Works provides an integrated engineering environment for the PLC, HMI and Position/Motion Control, sharing for example tag databases across the various hardware elements, reducing engineering time and saving costs.

GX Works2 has been designed from the ground up to provide an intuitive and comfortable programming environment that speeds up commissioning, reduces downtime, improves programming productivity and ensures effective security.

IEC 61131-3 compliant function blocks allow selections of commonly used code to be easily reused and shared among projects. A simulation function built into GX Works2 enables offline debugging without access to physical hardware.

GX Works2 also provides advanced PLC diagnostics. The diagnostics screen provides a wealth of information about the currently connected controller. The main screen allows the operational status of the entire PLC to be seen at a glance, allowing the immediate identification of problems. Additional detailed information is available to help with routine maintenance and problem resolution.

The L Series is fully compatible with the FX and iQ series controllers within a mixed automation environment, offering machine builders who have a range of machines, to have total confidence that projects can be migrated from the FX, through L series and onto the iQ platform depending on the machine complexity, with the minimum of engineering effort.

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