Panasonic deploys Renesas Power Line Communication IC for intelligent lighting control system

Renesas Electronics announced that Panasonic has adopted Renesas’ R9A06G037 power line communication (PLC) IC for its new railway platform lighting control system.

Panasonic and East Japan Railway Company jointly developed the new station platform lighting control system using G3-PLC, a narrowband PLC standard (10 to 450 kHz) for outdoor use. The system is currently deployed on the platforms at Takanawa Gateway Station, a new station in Tokyo serving the JR East Yamanote and the Keihin Tohoku lines.

R9A06G037 integrates a high performance DSP core and a MCU core (Arm Cortex-M3). The DSP core mainly handles PLC PHY layer protocol and the ARM core handles the upper layer protocol. R9A06G037 can support a variety of PLC protocols such as G3-PLC (CENELEC, ARIB and FCC), PRIME and many others.

Previously, adjusting brightness and color for lighting fixtures on the platforms required the installation of dedicated signal lines separate from the power lines. PLC makes it possible to transmit control signals over power lines, thereby reducing the amount of wiring needed and correspondingly lowering the associated costs and installation time.

“I am delighted to launch our new lighting control system featuring brightness and color adjustment functionality for the station platform,” said Yasunori Kawase, general manager of Lighting Systems Department, Lighting Equipment Business Unit, Lighting Business Division, Life Solutions Company at Panasonic. “This was the first time we utilized narrowband PLC in a lighting system, and leveraging Renesas’ technical support and extensive experience using this technology in smart meters worldwide, we successfully completed all stages of the rollout process, from field testing to actual operation. I am confident that with the collaboration of Renesas, we will further expand the use of narrowband PLC in our lighting systems moving forward.”

“We are pleased to collaborate with Panasonic on the development of their PLC-based lighting control system over the past five years,” said Toru Moriya, vice president of emerging markets division, IoT and Infrastructure Business Unit at Renesas Electronics. “We worked closely to overcome the technical issues associated with communications systems, particularly noise challenges, and we are excited to now see the system actually running in the railway station system. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Panasonic on the development of lighting control systems for a variety of environments.”

The lighting control system uses PLC to control the brightness and color of the station platform lighting fixtures to match lighting conditions impacted by the time of day and weather. G3-PLC technology already provided advantages such as high noise tolerance and the ability to easily implement long-distance communication. 

However, installing a system on station premises presented the additional challenge of operating accurately in a very demanding environment characterized by wireless signals and electromagnetic waves generated when trains start and stop, and noise emitted by a variety of electrical devices.

The Renesas R9A06G037 PLC IC adopted for the new system is G3-PLC compliant, delivers excellent performance processing communication software, and is exceptionally noise tolerant. 

In addition to supplying the PLC ICs, Renesas leveraged its proven track record in the field to provide technical support that enabled Panasonic to develop and implement a new lighting control system with error-free lighting brightness and color control on station premises. This included offering board circuit proposals and evaluation board-based improvements, supplying communication software for reference, supporting software development, and providing tools to evaluate the communication status.

Renesas will continue to focus on the development of PLC-based device control systems for communication over power lines in order to utilize energy more efficiently and move toward the goal of realizing an environmentally conscious smart society.


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