Making the right choice: Nine factors for machine automation controller selection 

November 15, 2023

A machine automation controller is a device that is engineered for deployment across a wide spectrum of manufacturing and industrial automation scenarios.

Making the right choice: Nine factors for machine automation controller selection 

A machine automation controller is a device that is engineered for deployment across a wide spectrum of manufacturing and industrial automation scenarios.

They are a central hub for orchestrating control, communication, and monitoring tasks within machinery and industrial processes. Machine automation controllers (MAC) play a key role in helping to streamline production lines and enhance automation safety. They’re essential for any industrial project where a process or machine needs to be automated. They can be used to manage logic, motion, safety, vision and robotics tasks. 



 MAC offers your business the advantage of user-friendliness and seamless integration, ensuring a smooth adoption process. 

·      It is IEC61131 based, aligning with international standards and ensuring compatibility with existing industrial systems. 

·      MAC enjoys the support of PLCOpen, enabling the use of standard programming languages, simplifying development and maintenance. 

·      This comprehensive solution provides a single software package that covers all levels, from FIELD/DEVICE to Management, encompassing sensing, vision/image processing, robotics, and safety, streamlining your automation processes. 

·      MAC prioritizes security with an independent Ethernet port and compliance with IEC 62443-4-1, offering peace of mind for your operational technology (OT) while maintaining compatibility with information technology (IT). 

·      You can easily expand your I/O capabilities by adding multiple Input and Output cards or EIP/ECAT couplers as needed, ensuring flexibility and scalability. 


Nine things to consider when choosing a machine automation controller 

1.Compatibility and integration 

Ensure the controller is compatible with your existing automation systems, from your device level to connect sensors and actuators to your management level or ERP system. It should seamlessly integrate into your current setup. 



Consider your future needs. Choose a controller that can accommodate the growth of your automation system without major overhauls or replacements. 

You should also consider the potential for future expansion or changes in your system. A machine controller that allows for easy scalability and module additions can save time and costs down the track. 



Evaluate the controller's processing power, speed, and real-time capabilities. The performance should match the requirements of your specific application. 


4.Programming and software 

Assess the programming environment and software tools available for the controller. It should be user-friendly and support the programming languages like Function Block, Structured Text, Ladder Logic to name a few and protocols that suits your existing plant. 

Consider the programming environment and software provided by the manufacturer. It should be user-friendly and support common programming languages. 


5.Communication protocols 

Ensure the controller supports the communication protocols required for your automation project, such as Modbus, Ethernet/IP or EtherCAT. 

You should also ensure the controller supports the communication protocols required to connect with other devices and systems in your facility, such as other PLCs, HMI (Human-Machine Interface) and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition). 


6.Reliability and durability 

Downtime can be costly. You should look for a controller with a track record of reliability. 

Consider the operating environment, such as temperature and vibration, and choose a controller built to withstand those conditions. 

Always choose a reputable manufacturer with a proven track record of reliability. 


7.Safety Features 

If your automation application involves safety-critical functions, make sure the controller supports safety integration and complies with relevant international safety standards. 



Consider the initial purchase price, as well as ongoing maintenance and support costs. While it's essential to stay within budget, it's equally important to avoid compromising quality for cost savings. 


9.Support and training 

You should ensure your supplier or distributor can deliver expert technical support, training and documentation. Good support can be invaluable in troubleshooting and maintaining your system. 

Evaluate the manufacturer's reputation for customer support, availability of spare parts, and the ease of maintenance. This can greatly affect the long-term reliability of your control system. 


Built to last 

OMRON Automation + Robotics offers machine automation controllers that seamlessly blends logic, motion, safety, robotics, vision, information, visualization, and networking into a unified software solution known as Sysmac Studio. 

Sysmac Studio stands out as an all-encompassing Integrated Development Environment (IDE), streamlining your development process. What sets it apart is that it comes equipped with built-in EtherCAT and EtherNet/IP support, making it a one-stop solution for your connectivity needs. With its unique architecture that unifies two powerful networks through a single connection, our Machine Controller offers a flawless synergy between real-time machine control and comprehensive plant data management. 

Our machine automation controllers have been meticulously crafted to provide manufacturing facilities with a combination of robust safety measures, precise motion control, and seamless operational transparency. This is achieved by harnessing the power of Sysmac's unified architecture, characterized by a singular controller, a single connection point, and a unified software platform.  

Our flagship is the NX range, which has all what your machine requires. The NX can control anything from a small system all the way up to thousands of inputs and outputs. It can handle the full suite of protocols like Ethernet/IP, Modbus TCP, EtherCAT, OPC UA, MQTT and more. It can also control a synchronised motion axis and is expandable to include safety systems.  


Explore the NX Range  

Our NX range includes the NX1P which is ideal for small to medium applications. It has built-in inputs and outputs and supports both EtherCAT and Ethernet/IP making it a fantastic all-rounder. 

The NX1P can securely transfer information, take safety measures, and control quality while at the same time improving production efficiency through high-speed, high- precision control.  

This contributes to continuous improvement in productivity.                                                                                                                  

The NX102 comes with protocols like Ethernet/IP, EtherCAT, OPC UA and Database functionality and supports encrypted communication for security in IIoT and Industry 4.0. 

Our high-end controller including NX5 and NX7 is currently the fastest machine automation controller. This controller is perfect for large and complex applications where only the best will do. 

These state-of-the-art controllers can improve your production efficiency while optimising information utilisation, safety measures, and quality control. 

Want to learn how our machine automation controllers can drive your business?  

Contact our expert team to find out more.

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