Analysis

Providing easy accessibility and concentrated performance

3rd December 2019
Alex Lynn

Mitsubishi Electric has released the company’s smallest and most powerful compact PLC to date, the FX5UC series Micro PLC. Its diminutive size is set to help machine builders and manufacturers pack ever more functionality into a smaller space - while also providing the web access and network connectivity demanded by the latest Smart Factory applications.

Now re-positioned as part of the high functioning MELSEC iQ-F series the new FX5UC model (the ‘C’ denotes compact) is engineered to handle the increasingly sophisticated data processing and communication tasks demanded by Smart Manufacturing applications.

More precisely, this tiny PLC now houses the same performance CPU as Mitsubishi Electric’s FX5U model in a product as small as a micro FX3S. 

Multitasking is the future

This extreme compact PLC features a program memory of 128,000 steps and a large device memory. In addition, it has an execution speed of 34ns, resulting in extremely fast machine responses and increased productivity. Even more, the FX5UC PLC can perform positioning and advanced motion control functions for up to eight synchronised axes, eliminating the need for dedicated controllers that would increase hardware and maintenance costs, programming time and equipment footprint. 

Additional built-in functions include tools to prevent data theft or tampering such as security key authentication, while allowing operators to access system status safely via the Web and interact with on-board features such as data logging. 

Very noticeably, the CPU module is a quarter the size of a conventional one, therefore it can fit into smaller spaces, freeing-up valuable on-machine or production floor space usually occupied by larger more conventional control panels. Other features also contribute to the space saving rationale such as incorporating 16 digital inputs and 16 built-in relay / transistor outputs, avoiding the need to install additional, space-consuming terminal blocks in many applications. 

Automation system engineers and integrators can also benefit

By incorporating flexibility and scalability, the FX5UC designers are looking to deliver an ideal solution for cost sensitive small machines as well as larger, networked multi-PLC systems. Networking capabilities help manufacturers to develop more integrated automated applications, especially when using other Mitsubishi Electric automation solutions. 

In this scenario complete manufacturing lines can be controlled, offering simpler system architectures and more transparent data management. On the other hand, open connectivity ensures compatibility with a wide choice of network options.

Many small details have been considered in the pursuit of increased user flexibility and ease of installation, the use of spring clamp terminals for example speeds-up wiring activities whilst ensuring reliable and vibration-resistant connections. Since modules can be unlocked from the rail and moved together with their wires, maintenance and system change tasks are also made far easier.

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