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Automation platform will link people, processes and things

06 March, 2017

Mitsubishi Electric has announced the launch of an open platform for factory automation that is based on edge computing. It says that the FA-IT platform will simplify connections between factories and value chains via the IoT (Internet of Things), enabling the rapid collection, analysis and utilisation of data for smart manufacturing.

Mitsubishi argues that in the competitive global market, manufacturers are increasingly looking to optimise their manufacturing processes by using IoT to collect data from factory equipment for visualisation and analysis. Developing such IoT systems from scratch, however, is an enormous task requiring data to be collected and modelled from a wide variety of production equipment, including existing equipment.

The three key elements of the new platform are:

1. Application development and connection to production equipment  Vendors can download a free development environment to create manufacturing applications for the new platform, including connecting it to industrial networks to collect data from various devices and production equipment. Mitsubishi Electric is considering opening an online store for applications.

2. Simple data model construction for manufacturing sites  Users can design, manage and access equipment data models based on an Industry 4.0 administration shell that stores information on the design, operation and maintenance of factory equipment. They will be able to do this without needing expert knowledge of programming. They will also be able to select and analyse data.

Mitsubishi Electric's open FA-IT automation platform uses the Internet of Things to help collect, analyse and make use of manufacturing data

3. Connection with cloud and IT systems  The cloud-connected platform can link manufacturing sites with IT vendors’ own cloud-supported manufacturing-optimisation services for supply chains, administration of multiple factories worldwide, and for other applications.

Mitsubishi says it will continue to develop the platform, and applications for it, through collaborations with IT companies and others. It plans to focus on creating connections to more equipment and devices, strengthening security measures, and incorporating artificial intelligence.

The platform will also be integrated with Mitsubishi’s e-F@ctory integrated factory automation ecosystem, which is designed to reduce the cost of developing, producing and maintaining products. Mitsubishi is creating e-F@ctory solutions with members of the e-F@ctory Alliance, consisting of companies specialised in technologies for system integration, software and devices.

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