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Next-generation controllers will support the IoT

18 November, 2015

The Japanese automation manufacturer Hitachi has announced a new generation of industrial controllers, based on open standards, and optimised for use with the Internet of Things (IoT). In addition to four PLC-format controllers, there is also a pair of industrial PC-based systems aimed at high-end applications.

Hitachi says that, in the past, because automation systems were assembled by combining PLCs running proprietary programming languages, it was difficult to ensure communications with devices in the context of IoT, and to find engineers with the expertise to support global rollouts.

In May of 2015, Hitachi established a new industrial products company and has been expanding its IoT activities based on open innovations. The new industrial controllers, scheduled for release in 2016, have been developed based on these principles.

For example, the controllers have been designed to accommodate the IoT. As well as supporting five IEC 61131-3 programming languages, they will support PLCopen motion functions. Hitachi says this will make them easy to configure and use anywhere in the world, as well as simplifying the construction of global production systems. They also support EtherCat, offering an environment in which data can be transmitted easily to the cloud.

The controllers also support Codesys, allowing a single CPU both to execute sequence control and to perform advanced motion control, synchronised with sensors, at the same time.

Hitachi plans to start selling four mid-range PLCs for IoT applications – known as the HX series – in April 2016. The four are a standard model, a high-performance model, a motion model, and a redundancy model.

Hitachi's next-generation controllers have been designed with the Internet of Things in mind

The main CPU for these controllers has three LAN ports (except for the standard model), allowing them to communicate independently with other controllers, and with higher-level information systems, via three separate networks.

The controllers can support up to 4,224 I/O points using up to 66 mounted modules and five expansion bases.

Also in April 2016, Hitachi plans to start selling two high-end PC-based controllers for IoT applications, using 3.7GHz Intel Core i3-4360 processors. These Windows-based PACs (programmable automation controllers) – called the HF-W/IoT series ­– will offer both PLC and IPC functions with large data storage capacities using either a single hard drive or two drives in a Raid configuration. They are said to have a smaller footprint than existing systems.

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