News Overview

Newly Developed Industrial Network Achieves New Manufacturing Using IoT and AI

ProductJan 22, 2018

One of the world’s highest performance networks for motion control devices has had a significant update, preparing it to meet the heightened standards of today’s new generation of manufacturing environments. 


Yaskawa Electric Corporation has announced the development of MECHATROLINK-4 (M-4), which inherits the functions, performance, and usability of the popular MECHATROLINK network developed in the first half of the 1990s. MECHATROLINK-4 achieves advanced and more efficient control in many ways, including improving transmission efficiency, adding multi-master functions. 

Also, for the Σ (Sigma)-LINK developed by Yaskawa in the mid-1990s for communication between servo amplifier and servomotors, Yaskawa announces that it has developed the Σ-LINK II which supports functionality to connect and to synchronize with not only encoders but also sensors and other I/O devices.


In recent years, the environment for industry is changing significantly, for example the introduction of smart production and operations, and the achievement of flexible and stable production using IoT and AI. With this background, a variety of sensors for ensuring product quality, predictive maintenance have begun to be connected in large numbers to machines and equipment at production sites, and the product data generated by these sensors are required to be collected and utilized.


Using the newly developed M-4 and Σ-LINK II together makes it possible to easily and simply synchronize and acquire not only the data related to motion control but also various sensor data. This further raises the productivity and achieves a new level of manufacturing technology utilizing IoT and AI.

Yaskawa also announces that it has decided to transfer the developed M-4 and Σ-LINK II to the MECHATROLINK MEMBERS ASSOCIATION (MMA) during FY2018.

Together with the MMA, Yaskawa will work for the further promotion of MECHATROLINK and the achievement of new advances in manufacturing.


Production management PC for information system


1. Main Features


While inheriting the high functionality, high performance, high reliability, and usability of the previous M-III (ensuring the application compatibility), the M-4 improves transmission efficiency (performance improvement of about 4times under the same conditions), provides much higher functionality and performance by supporting distributed systems with multi-master functions, and achieves simpler development and maintenance.

Also, the M-4 specifications supports 1000Base-T in the physical layer for the further performance improvement in the future. (M-4G)


Application Layer Command profile Standard servo, standard stepping motor drivers, standard I/O, standard inverter
Data Link Layer

Maximum number of stations

C1 master 1 station,

C2 master 1 station,

slave 62 stations

128 stations 

(Maximum 8 masters,

Maximum 127 slaves)

Sync manager Not supported Supported
Sync jitter ≦±1μs (Limit of 19 hops maximum) ≦±1μs
Multi-master Not supported Supported
Communication with multiple transmission cycles Not supported Supported
Duplex Half duplex Full duplex
Internet protocol Not supported Supported
Ethernet compatibility Only PHY layer Compatible
Physical Layer Transmission speed 100Mbps 


1Gbps(M-4G) Alternative

Transmission distance 100m between stations

100m between stations (100Mbps)

80m between stations (1Gbps)



 Main MECHATROLINK-4 Specifications



While inheriting the high functionality, high reliability communications of previous encoder communications (Σ-LINK), Σ-LINK II supports cascade connections like MECHATROLINK. Σ-LINK II achieves higher functionality and performance with reduced wiring by connecting not only encoders but also sensors, I/O equipment, and other devices installed on the machine side in cascades.


Application Layer Profile Σ-LINK command profile
Data Link Layer

Transmission mode

Cyclic transmission,

Acyclic transmission

Maximum number of slaves 1 14
Duplex Half duplex
Physical Layer

Transmission speed 4Mbps/8Mbps 4Mbps/8Mbps/16Mbps/24Mbps/32Mbps
Electrical specification RS-485
Topology Peer-to-peer (one-to-one)

Peer-to-peer (one-to-one),


 Main Σ-LINK II Specifications


2. Future Plans

Releasing the specifications of M-4 and Σ-LINK II through MMA are in preparation a scheduled unveiling at the Yaskawa’s booth and the MMA booth at System Control Fair 2017, to be held from Wednesday November 29, 2017 to Friday December 1, 2017 at Tokyo Big Sight.


* Ethernet is a trademark of Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd.

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