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Monitor your PLCs on a BlackBerry

02 February, 2010

Users of Mitsubishi FX PLCs can now monitor and adjust their installations remotely from a BlackBerry mobile phone. A German company called Schad, which specialises in Blackberry-based automation software, has joined Mitsubishi’s e-F@ctory Alliance scheme, and is offering support for the PLCs via its Extend 7000 mobile SCADA system.

The software allows BlackBerry users to change production schedules, and to diagnose and make adjustments to their control systems, based on alarms triggered by preset parameters or fault conditions.



The main innovation in the Extend 7000 system is cross-platform integration. A SCADA layer hosted on a local server connects to factory PLCs and provides a secure connection via the BlackBerry enterprise server to the Internet and out to a mobile network via a stable, secure 256-bit encrypted signal (as shown above).

This allows real-time interaction with PLC functions using simple commands. The system has already proved popular with large production sites and businesses such as utilities where engineering and maintenance teams need to monitor and maintain remote sites such as pumping stations.

Schad aims to become a global leader in mobile systems for operating and monitoring machine and plant controls.

“We hope the Extend 7000 solution will be established as the standard for mobile access to Mitsubishi PLCs,” says Christian Schad, the company’s managing director and the originator of its technology. “We have been able to convince users [including Volkswagen and Cologne-Bonn Airport] that the system really does save time for solving problems and improving plant uptime, while freeing operators to move around and take care of other management issues, without being shackled to a PC and a hardwired Ethernet link.”

The Schad system currently works with any Mitsubishi FX PLC connected to a network with Internet access. There are plans to extend the support to other Mitsubishi products such as its System Q, iQ Automation Platform, inverters and servo drives.

Chris Hazlewood, the originator of Mitsubishi’s e-F@ctory Alliance, believes that the Schad system “offers our end-users the opportunity to make better use of personnel and make improvements to communications and productivity.

“We are also looking for future potential and believe this platform has the potential to be extended to include the majority of Mitsubishi automation products,” he adds.




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