Doug Woods, president of AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology, wrote a great article for IndustryWeek titled:
It is a great article and here is a snippet of Doug discussing the best way think about what MTConnect is and what it is not. Please read the entire article here:
"It can be a bit difficult to grasp the concept of what MTConnect actually is. It might be easier to say what it isn't: It isn't a piece of hardware or a software application. So, what is MTConnect? It is a protocol. A protocol is simply how two different devices speak to each other and what data is available. The easiest way to think about MTConnect is that it is the Bluetooth for manufacturing. MTConnect doesn't tell you what to do with the data it collects; it merely collects it and makes it very easy for applications to read that data.
While MTConnect isn't a hardware device, companies are making black boxes the size of a brick that connect legacy machine tools on one side and to the network on the other side. MTConnect data isn't tied to any one developer or vendor -- the data are completely neutral. The MTConnect Institute makes MTConnect protocol available for free for its members. It costs nothing to become a member. That's because with a common protocol like MTConnect, everyone in manufacturing wins. The ability to plug-n-play in manufacturing means productivity gains because you simply cannot manage what you do not know.
It might all seem a bit nebulous, but perhaps the simplest way to understand MTConnect is to think of it as the universal translator. MTConnect takes the countless number of pieces of manufacturing equipment around the globe and provides a way for all of these systems to speak a common and open language. This language makes it possible to monitor such things as the amount of time a machine is in cycle, the alarms and delays it experiences, and any number of things that can be fitted with a sensor: movement and temperature, for example."