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PLC Comparison: Allen-Bradley vs. Mitsubishi

Many times, product comparisons explain how one brand’s business model is compared to another brand. In most business circles, that’s called a business intelligence analysis. We’ll avoid most of that and let you look at the facts and decide which one better fits your business needs.

The bottom line on Allen-Bradley versus Mitsubishi Electric is that both sides have a similar market share of the programmable logic controller market. The users’ hardware and software opinions mostly come down to being a personal preference when deciding which one they like over the other. It is not surprising that depending on which product the user has more experience with sways their choice in one direction or the other.

From the engineering side, programming typically becomes the factor that causes the tech guys to choose one brand. We’ll examine that as a point of interest in comparing the two brands. The PLC hardware that’s part of any PLC is similar across the board, especially when dealing with two of the top three sellers so far as market share goes. The user’s experience with one brand or the other typically leads to selecting one brand over the other.

Market Share

According to Robotics and Automation News, the top three corporations that lead the PLC market are:

  1. Siemens – holds a 30 to 40 percent of the market share. That means they sell many more PLCs than any other competitor, including Allen-Bradley and Mitsubishi Electric. The company bases out of Germany and sells the Simatic brand of PLC’s. They claim to have a PLC for every conceivable application. But, they are listed here to provide context to the Allen-Bradley, Mitsubishi discussion.
  2. Rockwell Automation/Allen-Bradley – Rockwell manages the Allen-Bradley brand and has since 1985. It’s a US-based corporation. Its PLC offerings range from large system applications to mid-sized and micro (nano) systems. Its market capitalization is around $25B, with annual revenue from the Allen-Bradley line of PLCs is $7B.
  3. Mitsubishi Group/Mitsubishi Electric – Mitsubishi is a Japanese corporation. It’s a bit tricky to pin down the annual revenue Mitsubishi Electric drives from PLC sales. However, given their third-place ranking, it’s less than $7B.

The competition for market share is fierce. Both companies have a robust business model that strives to gain their percentage of the futures market’s growing value. Suppose we do some market intelligence work and take advantage of Morder Intelligence research. Market value is predicted to rise to approximately $4B by 2025. The largest percentage of that growth will happen in the US market, giving Allen-Bradley and the upper hand in potential revenue growth.

A point of comparison to take note of is the effort by the independent standards industry (IEC)  to drive some standardization of PLCs with the issuance of the IEC 61131-3;2013 standard. Rockwell responded by establishing the Rockwell  Automation System Integrator (RASI) system integrator program. Mitsubishi Electric did the same by creating the Mitsubishi Electric System Integrator Program (MESIP) system integrator program to make it easier to link their PLC brands to other brands.

Technical Comparison of Allen-Bradley/Mitsubishi/Siemens

  • Quora has some interesting discussion on PLCs and how they are programmed. One user from Asia had this to say about Allen-Bradley PLCs.

It all depends on what you want. If you are very new to PLCs, This user found Allen Bradley is relatively popular and simple. He used online tutorials to learn to program the AB PLC. Obviously, AB has tools on its website to help new users with programming. Score a point in favor of AB.

There are many videos available on youtube. He recommends you to do the following

  1. visit ab.com and download picosoft
  2. practice making ladder diagram with picosoft
  3. do simulations as per your own.
  4. after 30-40 days of practice, you can make your own learning kit
  • The same discussion gives us some insight into why AB programming is highly regarded.
  • Having worked with Rockwell (micrologix, control logix and compact logix) as well as Siemens Step7 and Schneider’s Quantum, I must agree that the Rockwell platform is easier and more intuitive to allow the programmer to immerse faster fully; also the SW side of it is easier to configure and use. Last project I used Siemens, I felt nickel and dimed, reseller kept saying “oh yeah, that’s extra,” as for Schneider, not having their own HMI (interface) in my opinion hurts them. Yes you can use Vijeo, but you have to do a tag export/import, and make sure you have the correct offsetting for Modbus or you have just created additional hurdles you do not need.

Score another point for AB for programming and software that is intuitive.

  • A MindsMapped article gives us some independent comments on both AB and Mitsubishi programming characteristics.
  • Rockwell Automation and its line of controllers, Allen-Bradley PLC is one of the most established PLC manufacturers in the US automation market. The Allen-Bradley line of controllers are available for projects of all sizes and are collectively known as programmable automation controllers (PACs).
  • The AB network of controllers can manage a whole plant with an appropriate plan and design. Their software suite comes with ControlLogix controllers and software, GuardPLC, and SoftLogix software. The company offers controllers for small-size applications like MicorLogix, SLC500 and CompactLogix systems.
  • Mitsubishi is considered as the world’s number three with a market share of 13.9%. It’s mostly based in Japan and Asia with little presence in Europe and America. The manufacturer offers the GX Developer PLC Programming Software, which is beloved for its reliability and excellent troubleshooting capability and commonly applied in household applications like air conditioners, refrigerators, fans, home automation, TV displays, ventilators, and even in traffic control.

Allen Bradley (AB) – Independent List of Pros and Cons (Affinity Energy)

Affinity Energy is a certified control systems integrator working across the automation industry to integrate PLCs from many manufacturers into typical applications.

Pros

  1. High reliability, maintainability, backward compatibility, and legacy support
  2. New model release comes with a migration path from previous generations of PLC
  3. Rapid global response (next day) AB field technicians to performing emergency repairs is a distinct differentiator from other PLC vendors
  4. Integrating AB automation devices with Ethernet I/P is excellent

Cons

  1. More expensive compared to other PLC vendors in their level of market share  (top 5)
  2. AB charges for their programming software via an annual support contract
  3. AB programming code is protected as proprietary property. AB support required to change any code
  4. Potential compatibility issues with the MODBUS communication protocol, one of the more widely used protocols
  5. AB only offers a one year manufacturer’s warranty.

Mitsubishi Electric PLCs – Pros and Cons

Pros (from program-plc blogsot.com)

  1. Reliable memory for storing input data and execution
  2. The modular design provides growth potential with more I/O modules added on
  3. Easy to operate and easy to troubleshoot and fix leads to greater uptime and decreased costs to operate

Cons

  1. Limited global market exposure. Available mostly in Asia
  2. Limited product offering outside of its home market

This discussion comes from the MrPLC forum website. It is a bit dated (2016), but it has some interesting insights into how the users see the three brands. Yes, we get some Siemens contamination in Allen-Bradley/Mitsubishi’s discussion, but that brings a bit more clarity to the PLC market in general. You can read the entire conversation at the link provided. However, a short synopsis here will introduce how the users feel about the three brands.

These are the relevant takeaways from user responses in this forum:

  • From a user with experience with all three brands – people are going to answer ‘absolutely’ based on their experience
  • All three offer world-class hardware and capabilities
  • Geography has a lot to do with cost and support. So, the market you are in drives an advantage for the manufacturer in that region/country.
  • The home market advantage extends to the country/region’s manufacturer to access each company’s full product line. Companies offer a limited selection of their products in locations outside of their home market.
  • Methods of software development and strategy to remain competitive is a differentiating factor among all three. One introduces software upgrades through the marketing of new hardware. The other introduces software upgrades to increase the capability of existing hardware, thus keeping operational costs lower.
  • One user had a particular pet peeve; Allen Bradley Compactlogix PLCs that have the sweet programming features of the Controllogix product with a lower price tag and no stupid backplane
  • Another specific point of differentiation in the US market; I have avoided Siemens mostly due to SCADA driver support and lack of engineers asking for it outside the US Department of Defense (DOD) projects.

Rockwell Automation/Allen-Bradley Product Characteristics

We’ll take a bulleted list approach to this for the sake of avoiding the marketing hype.

  • Products cover the Large, Small, Process, and Micro (automotive and medical robotics) control systems.
  • Safety-certified controllers for Large and Small Control Systems support your Saftey Integrity Level (SIL 2 and SIL 3) application needs
  • Common plant-wide control capability
  • It offers a cost-saving simplified architecture that provides a less complicated challenge
  • The ControlLogix machines incorporate advanced security for centralized authentication and access.
  • Offers ISO 27001 certification to help protect intellectual property
  • Rapid and continuous software releases provide the ability to expand performance and expanded portfolio capabilities

Mitsubishi Electric Product Characteristics

  • Products cover programable controllers (MELSEC product line), Simple Applxciaton Controllers (Alphas2 series), Motion Controllers, and Computerized Numerical Controllers (CNC machines).
  • MELSEC Series flexibly meet the industrial production requirements. Ideal solutions for users.
  • The flexible ALPHA2 series can be easily used in various applications (home, office, or factory).
  • Motion control PLC system-based and industrial servo system controllers for high speed and high accuracy drive control for industrial machines
  • CNC machines recognize the industrial investment in CNC technology and strive to provide continuity in industrial processes.

Conclusion

The PLC that you use in your system applications is primarily driven by the level of experience you’ve had with the brand you started with. There’s nothing wrong with that. Brand loyalty of that nature reveals that all PLC manufacturers produce quality products while supplying excellent customer support.

The future growth of the industry is well connected with Industry 4.0 initiatives. In many cases, it is implementing smart manufacturing using PLCs as the workhouse that enables smart manufacturing success.

References:

https://www.quora.com/Currently-what-is-the-most-easiest-Programmable-Logic-Control-or-PLC-to-program

https://www.mordorintelligence.com/

https://www.mindsmapped.com/top-5-plc-programming-software/

https://program-plc.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-advantages-and-product-application.html

https://forums.mrplc.com/index.php?/topic/38392-comparison-of-mitsubishi-allen-bradley-siemens/

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This entry was posted on January 18th, 2021 and is filed under Allen-Bradley, Mitsubishi, PAC, PLC. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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