Wednesday, January 23, 2013

CECIMO MTConnect Article

CECIMO is the European Association of the Machine Tool Industries, and they were kind enough to ask the MTConnect Institute to write an article for their Fall 2012 magazine that comes out in both electronic and hard copy.  I am always thrilled to get the word out on MTConnect especially in other parts of the globe as we want MTConnect to truly be a global standard.  My article starts on page 25.

This October marks the sixth anniversary of the conference that laid out the foundation for MTConnect. MTConnect is an open and royalty-free standard that is dramatically changing manufacturing around the globe.

The beginning of MTConnect goes back to the end of 2006, when AMT held its annual meeting in Lake Las Vegas. This is where MTConnect was born. I worked with Dr. David Patterson of the University of California at Berkeley (UCB). Dave and I worked closely together on our back-to-back keynotes, laying out the business and technical framework, and it was there that by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. decided to fund MTConnect.

What exactly is MTConnect? It’s is an open, royalty-free standard that converts the many different proprietary manufacturing equipment data formats into the common language of the Internet that all applications speak. Think of a protocol as the “rules of the road” on how information will be shared. MTConnect is the Manufacturing Technology Connection between manufacturing equipment and applications. Another way to think of MTConnect is like a “Bluetooth for manufacturing equipment”. Bluetooth works when two different devices support it, such as your cellphone and your car, or your computer and other peripherals. MTConnect works when both the manufacturing equipment and the software applications support MTConnect.

 The diagram below shows how a typical application retrieves information from an MTConnect enabled device on the shop floor. In this diagram, the application could be any application that is MTConnect enabled.  MTConnect enabling an application is straight forward as MTConnect uses proven Internet protocols. The diagram shows the MTConnect agent and the optional adapter. It is this combination that takes the proprietary information from a manufacturing device, combines the information with an MTConnect data dictionary and makes it available for applications to easily retrieve and use.

An area of confusion sometimes is that people think MTConnect is an application such as Microsoft Office. MTConnect is not an application, MTConnect is a standard that connects manufacturing equipment to applications.

Companies, organizations, and even individuals can join the MTConnect Institute for free. Additionally, it is free to deploy the MTConnect standard. MTConnect is also open source. We do this because we strongly believe a common standard is the equivalent of a “rising tide lifting all ships”. In other words, everyone wins when manufacturing equipment can easily be connected. MTConnect Institute members may take the MTConnect protocol and bundle it with their software or manufacturing equipment. They are free to sell it or include free with their software or systems – that is their decision. We have over 100 companies that are MTConnect members with companies joining every day.

Today, only 4 to 5 percent of machine tools around the globe are monitored. MTConnect is changing that and changing manufacturing in countless ways. You cannot manage what you cannot measure and MTConnect is making it very easy for shops and plants to get manufacturing equipment data and therefore manage their business in an intelligent fashion.

Where is MTConnect today in its history? We working on our fourth release and there are many exciting things going on with MTConnect. In November 2011, we had our first ever [MC]2 MTConnect Connecting Manufacturing Conference, which was a huge success. We have made 23 hours of videos available on a number of topics, including help for the first-time MTConnect user, end-user discussions on lessons learned, and even how to write MTConnect-enabled software. I would encourage everyone to go to our site,, to learn more or to ask questions.

John Byrd, former president of AMT, has said that, “MTConnect will do more for manufacturing in the 21st century than CNC did in the 20th century”. Mr. Byrd is being proven correct every day.

At the MTConnect Institute our mantra is “MTConnect is Different Devices, Common Connection”. As the president and Chairman of the Board for the MTConnect Institute, my final message is that MTConnect is REAL, it is a revolution in manufacturing and you should investigate it today to help improve productivity in your shop or plant!

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