With the rise of the Industrial Internet, manufacturing is keen to take advantage of the productivity gains and strategic planning that go along with improved equipment monitoring and connectivity. The advancements allowed by such interoperability are vital to the health of the entire manufacturing economy and the industry, not just for companies seeking to improve their bottom line, but also for the ability to innovate in processes, materials, and other technologies.
MTConnect acts as an enabler of the industrial internet for manufacturing operations. While communication standards are not new to manufacturing, previous attempts were proprietary, pay-for-use versions that had many barriers to widespread adoption. To address this critical issue, AMT began working with UC-Berkeley and Georgia Tech to develop an open-source standard that would be non-proprietary, royalty free, and therefore more likely to gain mass implementation.
The MTConnect standard was originally designed for data exchange between shop floor equipment and software applications used for monitoring and analysis. However, it is now used for interdevice connectivity of equipment on the shop floor as well. The equipment/device data is presented in XML and is retrieved from Agents using HTTP. As it is extensible, its use can cover just about anything. For example, we know that Foxconn, manufacturer of the iPhone, was at one point using it to monitor its beverage vending machines!
Since its initial public demonstration at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September 2008, the standard has been adopted by manufacturers of all sizes, including GE Aviation, the Department of Defense, and Mazak; and a consortium of more than 100 companies has worked at further development of the standard. Likewise, business and academia have taken an interest in developing applications for the standard that touch nearly all aspects of production.
As MTConnect has taken an incremental approach to defining the requirements for manufacturing device communications, the standard has high potential for additional development to meet business and research objectives. Therefore, the audience at SOLID would be encouraged to learn more about the standard and consider ideation of additional applications and usage of MTConnect.
Doug Woods joined AMT as its president in April 2009. Prior to that, he held a number of executive positions at several manufacturing technology companies, including Liberty Precision Industries, Parlec, Cross & Trecker, Alliance Automation, and Alliance Tool Corporation. Doug was AMT’s chairman of the board in 2005-06 and served on its board of eirectors from 2000-08. Currently he serves on the board of directors of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing & Machining, National Council for Advanced Manufacturing, The Reshoring Intiative, the National Association of Manufacturers Council of Manufacturing Associations, and the MTConnect Institute. Doug holds a B.S. in Business from Syracuse University. In 1994 he was the Upstate New York recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Manufacturing Turnarounds.
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