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In the world of industrial automation, there are a number of big names constantly competing against each other for the spot of the biggest automation solutions company – from companies dedicated to the manufacture of PLCs and automation solutions, to brands that are subsidiaries of the biggest commercial conglomerates in the world of electronics.
The competition is fierce to say the least, and the landscape has been constantly changing in the last decades for several reasons. Some big names have disappeared, and others have been consumed by other, bigger, or more agile companies. New names are not common, which is to be expected in a business that requires a huge investment not only to make quality hardware, but to build the reliability and trust that is needed in the world of industrial automation.
In this article, two of the biggest names in the industry take the spotlight, the well-known American brand, Rockwell Automation’s Allen Bradley, and the industrial automation side of Mitsubishi Electric multinational, which is already known as one of the leading companies in the world in the field of consumer and industrial electronics.
AB is the most popular manufacturer in the US for a reason, they have provided excellent support and reliability to their client for years, not only in PLCs but for many industrial automation solutions like motors, actuators, safety control centers, and more. They have a wide range of PLC devices from low to high end, giving a good number of options in price as well. This, along with the right support, will give to any developer the tools to get a system up and running in no time.
On the other hand, Mitsubishi has been a healthy company that has been providing quality products to their clients since its conception, but its popularity was not so great the more they went to the western regions, mostly because of translation problems, and low-quality support because of the same language barrier, nevertheless, this situation has been improving in the last few years and the popularity of Mitsubishi as a PLC systems provider, have been growing since.
As mentioned before, AB offers a large range of products, looking to offer as many different options as possible. The main product lines are:
Mitsubishi doesn’t lag behind in this regard, offering different series to hit a number of necessities in the market:
As you can see, both companies offer a good range of capable hardware, all of them with their own cons and pros, which really depends on the situation that they are going to be put through, due to this, there is not really a winner in this part, they are all good solution depending on the situation.
This is another category in which is really hard to find a winner, both companies are known to have devices that have been working for 20 years or more, this is really good for the industry since they don’t really need to do huge changes to the system until is really necessary for natural progression when needed.
It is worth noting that Mitsubishi offers a much better support for backward compatibility, even really old models can be modified with available software and hardware (cables). AB doesn’t have bad support for this either, but Mitsubishi just shows that they are really committed to this even with “vintage” models, AB older models will need special cables and old software that are often a problem to get around.
This is a very subjective category, a device may have the most advanced and powerful software in the world, but, at the end of the day, it all really depends on how comfortable a developer feels with that software. A person that has been working with GX Works most of their career may think that this a better software than Allen Bradley’s RSLogix 500 just because of not being used to it, and the same may happen the other way around. In this case, AB is generally considered to provide a more cohesive and modern experience than what Mitsubishi offers, but again, this mostly comes down to personal preference.
This might be the most important category for most people, a company might have the most impressive machines and devices in their catalog, but if they can’t guarantee great support in the form of both precise documentation and great human help, every expense can grow much higher than expected.
Allen Bradley really comes out on top in this category. Some might say that this is the backbone for the success and stability they have had for so many years. They have a wide library of documents with precise information about the products readily available, and their operators will guide users through every common and most uncommon problems anyone might have. The only problem with AB is the pay wall, and it can be very noticeable having in mind that the support from Mitsubishi is free.
On the other hand, Mitsubishi suffered from an initial bad impression in this regard, with documentation awkwardly translated from Japanese to English, and a not-so-good person-to-person support that also might have been a symptom of the language barrier. But Mitsubishi have greatly improved in this category in recent years, giving quality support to their clients. Thanks to this and their reliable devices, they have been able to grow more in the field.
Mitsubishi often offers better prices than Allen Bradley, especially in their high-end options. This is one of the reasons many users are migrating from AB to Mitsubishi. Athough the price is not the most important factor at the time of choosing a PLC manufacturer, when both companies are competitive in the spheres of quality services and products, it becomes a much bigger factor.
Mitsubishi is one of the top PLC manufacturers today, mostly thanks to the combination of great pricing and great quality products. The downside to their products is the average level of support they offer. That’s not to say the support is bad per se, just that it might not be as good as some of their competition. On the other hand, Allen Bradley keeps the trust of a great portion of the industry, largely due to their stellar support services and the ease of finding third-party support. Even companies that have been using Mitsubishi for small-scale projects tend to trust their most important projects to Allen Bradley hardware.
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