Industry Collaboration Roundup: Control Companies Working Together for Success

February 11, 2024 by Seth Price

Major automation players, including Beijer Electronics, Phoenix Contact, Mitsubishi Electric, and others, have announced collab and partnership projects to ensure the industry's successful future.

The past month has seen the announcement of a few new partnerships established between automation companies. Collaborations and partnerships between companies, both formal and informal, can lead to exciting innovations and push the boundaries of industrial automation technology.

Phoenix Contact announced that it will be joining the vPAC Alliance for substation architecture digitalization. Mitsubishi Electric began a partnership with HACARUS to ramp up automated visual inspection technology. Also, Beijer Electronics and MA-IT have combined forces to develop and implement WebIQ automation.


Phoenix Contact Joins the vPAC Alliance

Phoenix Contact produces a wide variety of electrical equipment, from cables and connectors to relays and switches, to sensors and cloud computing software. One of the industries they serve is power generation and distribution, providing battery storage systems, energy management systems, and energy monitoring devices, amongst others.

Phoenix Contact recently announced its admission into the Virtual Protection Automation and Control (vPAC) Alliance. The purpose of the vPAC Alliance is to develop standards during this time of rapid development in smart grid technology. As the demand on power grids increases, (underscored by the well-publicized demand for electric car charging stations) and as power generation shifts into more renewable resources, the power grid itself must be altered in new ways. Phoenix Contact’s agreement to join the vPAC Alliance shows their commitment to developing these new solutions for a 21st century power grid.


Power grid equipment at night

Smart grid development requires the development and adherence to standards. The vPAC alliance develops those standards, improving the reliability and efficiency of the grid. Image used courtesy of Phoenix Contact


Mitsubishi and HACARUS Expand Visual Inspection Tools

Mitsubishi Electric has been a leader in robotics and manufacturing automation for generations. Melfa robots have been used in virtually all industrial and manufacturing markets. Recently, Mitsubishi agreed to extend its partnership with HACARUS, a developer of artificial intelligence (AI) tools. The purpose of this partnership is to improve visual inspection techniques for quality control departments by leveraging AI to more rapidly and efficiently find defects.

Visual inspection can be performed in numerous ways. Currently, cameras can be mounted on robotic arms, or parts can be lifted with robotic grippers past a stationary camera. Cameras can collect visible, infrared, or ultraviolet light to look for surface flaws, leaks, and all sorts of other problems. By adding an AI component to this process, patterns in large data sets can be more easily identified and remedied.


Mitsubishi industrial robots

Cameras mounted on the ends of robotic arms can be used to speed up and more accurately perform quality control measurements. Image used courtesy of Mitsubishi Electric


Beijer and MA-IT Advance WebIQ Implementation

Beijer Electronics acquired SMART HMI in recent years and was looking to expand the implementation of WebIQ services in response to this acquisition. Recently, Beijer partnered with MA-IT and, with the collaborative knowledge, developed a joint roadmap of goals and benchmarks for increasing the WebIQ uptake among clients.

WebIQ itself is an HMI built entirely using web tools, such as HTML5, CSS, and others. The goal of this partnership is not just to develop more HMI products for industrial clients, but to help clients see the value of these tools and assist them with deployment and implementation.


WebIQ platform for web-base HMI development

WebIQ can be used to make intuitive, custom displays for important parameters in a manufacturing process. Image used courtesy of Beijer Electronics


Working Together for Common Goals

When companies work together towards a common goal, they can leverage each of their strengths to offer a better product to the consumer. In all three cases, automation systems will operate more efficiently with these collaborations than they would have without, and that efficiency can be passed on as a cost savings to automation engineers and plant managers.