MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC Changes for the Better

Scalable solutions for cloud connection

Internet of Things

For any manufacturing business, global competition is driving a need to improve productivity, increase flexibility and agility, improve product quality and reduce waste. This can only be built on a platform of information, and the integration of data from an ever broader range of control components and field devices has seen the rise of Industrial Internet of Things. It is the availability of a platform of information that is central to ‘smart factory’ initiatives, such as the definitions of Industry 4.0 in Europe and the Industrial Internet Consortium in the US, as well as the Robot Revolution Initiative in Japan.

Cloud computing is seen as a key enabler in this digital transformation of industry as volumes of data increase. Cloud based data storage and processing services can deliver more reliable, more scalable and more affordable data collection and distribution than on-site IT platforms, with significantly increased transparency and consistency across the whole value chain. However, there are concerns about ownership and data security.

Mitsubishi Electric is at the forefront of technologies for the digital transformation of manufacturing processes. Proven solutions built on the e‑F@ctory concept or developed with e‑F@ctory Alliance partners are providing innovative solutions for the Industrial Internet of Things and addressing areas of concern. These solutions not only address requirements for cloud computing by providing easy and safe access to different kinds of cloud services, but also enable users to take advantage of edge computing as a complement to the cloud via the Mitsubishi Electric C Controller and MES IT technologies.

Edge computing

While the cloud delivers the ‘bigger picture’ of the Industrial Internet of Things, it is less suitable for supporting applications that demand a real-time response. Mitsubishi Electric’s solution is edge computing, where data from intelligent devices can be aggregated, filtered, pre-processed and analysed directly from within the automation platform, eliminating the lag and latency of the cloud and without the need for industrial hardware within the harsh production environment.

Information collected from the plant floor sensors, drives, PLCs, mechatronics systems and energy monitoring devices can be analysed within the Mitsubishi Electric C Controller and MES Interface solutions. Data can then be made immediately available to the processes that need it, and/or forwarded to higher-level enterprise systems for supply chain optimisation, improved production control and plant operation simulations.

Keeping time-critical information within the automation environment and pre-processing information needed by higher-level or cloud systems also reduces bandwidth requirements for the IT infrastructure, gives greater assurances of security, and removes issues of regional data handling and storage compliance regulations.

Cloud services

Edge computing and cloud computing are complementary, with manufacturers looking to integrate both to reap the full potential of the Industrial Internet of Things.

But there are many different cloud solutions available, from the biggest and best known to the hundreds of specialist solutions, niche cloud applications and dedicated cloud-based analytics services. With its e-F@ctory approach, Mitsubishi Electric supports connection to all of these different cloud services.

OPC UA Server/Client

With the OPC UA structure enables connection to the Microsoft Azure Cloud via an AMQP client bridge. The use of the OPC UA open standard reduces system complexity, delivering cost-effective, robust, and secure cloud integration. Information is collected from OPC UA servers and transmitted to and from the cloud via the bridge.

IoT Connector

Cloud connectors provide simple connection from the plant floor to dedicated cloud services. These modules connect to plant floor controllers via Ethernet, and transmit information to and from the cloud over SMTP. Mitsubishi Electric has worked with e-F@ctory partners such as Adroit, eWon and Secomea to develop such cloud connectors, but there are also compatible products from third party companies such as TIXI.

Mitsubishi Adroit Process Suite (MAPS)

Mitsubishi Electric’s MAPS SCADA technology offers direct integration into the Microsoft world, with direct support for Microsoft connection technologies and VB-Script, as well as OPC UA. MAPS delivers a high-end solution for data collection, edge computing and integration to different cloud systems.

C Application Server

The Mitsubishi Electric C Application Server supports numerous web communication interfaces, providing a simple means to integrate with Hana or other cloud services. It also provides a platform for edge computing, using the C Controller to collect and pre-process critical production information within the control environment, and only sending relevant, pre-filtered information to the cloud. Thus cloud services can be used in the most effective way, including accessing analytics from mobile devices.

Practical implementations

As a best practice example, Mitsubishi Electric is performing production simulation in a cyber physical system at its Kani factory in Japan, and comparing the simulation continuously with the real production values. Where a deviation from the simulation occurs, adjustments are made within the production environment to maintain quality and productivity, and eliminate waste and the need for rework. This innovative combination of cloud computing with edge processing has become a key enabler for sustainability.