1 March 2007
Detroit should not have dismissed Japanese competition and neither should the North American and European automation providers
By Nicholas Sheble
The Japan creep into automation continues.
Kaizen, Toyota factories, sushi, and robots are commonplace in the North American heartland. Now enters another Japanese brainstorm in the form of a communications and networking protocol-CC-Link-to challenge Modbus, Foundation fieldbus, DeviceNet, and Profibus, among others.
The AutoAlliance facility in Flat Rock, Mich., manufactures the Ford Mustang and the Mazda6. More than 3,700 employees work at this 2.7 million square foot operation.
AutoAlliance makes extensive use of CC-Link networking when manufacturing approximately 1,200 vehicles per day. More than 400 robots work to make over 6,000 body welds on each vehicle. Sixty-one robots and 10 automatic paint machines apply sealants, sound deadening, and 19 paint colors.
CC-Link is already a popular standard in Japan, and in recent years, it has expanded rapidly in Asia and North America. Well over 3 million nodes are in use.
The open field network received International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approval unanimously in the voting for ISO 15745-5, which is "Industrial automation systems and integration-Open systems application integration framework-Part 5: Reference description for HDLC-based control systems."
The ISO approval of CC-Link technology probably will result in the increasing acceptance of the networking technology by suppliers, integrators, and end users outside of Japan and Asia.
Broad automation spectrum
CC-Link is a Fieldbus network that processes both cyclic I/O data and acyclic parameter data at high speed.
Mitsubishi developed the technology, and the CC-Link Partner Association manages it much as the Fieldbus Foundation, ODVA, and the PNA manage their respective technologies.
It is a popular network in Asia. It platforms on Mitsubishi Automation technology Worldwide and works for time critical applications.
CC-Link is a Fieldbus for high-speed communication between controllers and intelligent field devices like I/Os, sensors, and actuators. In networks with up to 65 stations, it provides reliable communication without need for repeaters.
It leverages a broad spectrum of automation equipment from many manufacturers and provides communication facilities for integrated production or process facilities using a single cable.
CC-Link controlled robots apply sound deadening material to the car body just prior to painting.
Robots apply finish color and clear paint over the entire body. The robots work with 24 different colors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicholas Sheble (email@example.com) is senior technical editor for InTech. Sources include CC-Link North America (www.cclinkamerica.org), HMS Industrial Networks (http://www.hms.se/), and ARC (www.arcweb.com).
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