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'Premium micro-PLC' outperforms similarly priced logic blocks

12 November, 2013

Mitsubishi Electric has announced a new micro-PLC which, it claims, creates a new class of device – which it calls a “premium micro-PLC” – offering many of the functions of compact PLCs, but at similar price to a logic block.

The FX3S PLC completes Mitsubishi’s FX3 compact PLC range. It is three times faster than the earlier FX1S, with a basic instruction processing time of 0.21µs, and has twice as much memory (4,000 steps). It occupies the same footprint as an FX1S but is a bit deeper to accommodate FX3 ADP expansion modules which offer analogue and communication options, including Ethernet and RS-422/485 serial ports. HMIs can be connected directly via an RS-422 port.

Adding Ethernet means that FX3S can be used as an intelligent datalogger or distributed I/O. Built in drivers allow users to set up simple, low-cost networks to control up to eight Mitsubishi inverters and to monitor their use of energy directly.

The FX3S supports 116 applied instructions – 31 more than the FX1S – including inverter communications and floating-point instructions.

Like the FX1S, the FX3S comes in 10, 14, 20 and 30 I/O variants, making it easy to upgrade to the newer PLC without a major redesign. There is also a version of the 30 I/O CPU with built-in analogue I/O which can be used for simple temperature or flow control systems.

When used with Mitsubishi’s MAPS Scada and MX4 energy management software, the FX3S PLCs can be used for low-cost, plant-wide data collection.

Expandable: Mitsubishi's new micro-PLC offers many options for connecting to external devices

The micro-PLCs are programmed using the GXWorks2 software which allows users to choose either ladder-style programming, or more advanced structured programming. The PLCs can be configured, along with HMIs, using the iQ Works navigator software.

Hugh Tasker, Mitsubishi’s product manager for compact PLCs and HMIs in the UK, believes that the new micro-PLCs will raise the company’s share of the £12m compact PLC market in the UK from around 35% to 40% within a year. Part of this growth will come from using the FX3S to expand into growing markets such as building services.

UK prices for the new PLCs will range from around £120 for the 10 I/O versions, to just under £300 for the 30 I/O version. The previous generation will continue to be available for about two years.

Mitsubishi Electric introduced its first PLC in 1981, and has sold more than 12 million of the FX controllers, which are now in their third generation.

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