Sunday, September 30, 2012

My MTConnect Article for Precision Manufacturing

NOTE:  Here is an article I wrote for Precision Magazine this month.

Feature Story: MTConnect

September 14, 2012
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Different Devices, Common Connection

by Dave Edstrom
In 2008, Paul Warndorf, vice president of manufacturing technology for the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), wrote an introductory article for Precision Manufacturing on the topic of MTConnect. A great deal has happened since then. A wide range of organizations has invested in MTConnect, from small shops up to the U.S. Department of Defense. More importantly, members of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association (MPMA) can change their shop or plant productivity radically by embracing MTConnect.

The beginning of MTConnect goes back to late 2006, when AMT held its annual meeting in Lake Las Vegas. This is where MTConnect was born—an open and royalty-free standard with the potential to dramatically change manufacturing around the globe.

In preparation for the annual meeting, I worked with Dr. David Patterson of the University of California-Berkeley. Patterson and I worked closely together on our back-to-back keynotes for the meeting and it was there that AMT decided to fund MTConnect.

What Exactly is MTConnect?
MTConnect is an open standard that converts the many different proprietary manufacturing equipment data formats into the common language of the Internet, which all applications speak. Think of MTConnect as a standard using proven Internet protocols that are 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.

To clarify, MTConnect is not an application, such as Microsoft Excel, but it is how a machine tool would speak to a shop floor monitoring program. This program might be running a PC or Mac on the shop floor, on your iPhone or the PC in your office. In other words, now you can see what is happening on your shop floor anywhere, anytime on an Internet-enabled device.

Shop floor monitoring is the first obvious type of application that has become MTConnect-enabled. Some popular examples of information that could be analyzed through monitoring include OEE, asset utilization, diagnostics, and machine health. If you are a shop owner, a plant manager, or anyone in manufacturing who manages productivity and profitability, the first questions you should be asking are: How can monitoring our shop floor improve our business; and why is it important that MTConnect is the standard that is chosen to connect our shop floor to our applications?

When considering shop floor monitoring, it is important to remember John Turner’s Five Laws of Manufacturing:
  1. We measure what goes into production and what comes out; we have little data on what really happens on the production floor.
  2. If anyone says “I know exactly what is happening on my plant floor” – don’t believe them.
  3. We don’t gather data because it’s hard, and someone has to look at it.
  4. No one solution or set of data works for everyone.
  5. If you don’t have an avid champion, save your time and money.
How you Get the Data
When you decide to monitor your shop floor, remember this: How you get the data matters. Choose a standard that provides the widest selection of solutions and provides the greatest flexibility as your needs change. MTConnect is a standard that provides the most widely adopted manufacturing data standard in the industry. It currently is used in more than 14 monitoring applications with more coming.

If you are attending IMTS 2012, please stop by the Emerging Technology Center. We will be showing MTConnect-enabled applications in the following categories:
  • Efficiency: Understanding Hidden Cost
  • Utilization: Discovering Untapped Capacity
  • Sustainability: Minimizing Negative Environmental Impacts
  • Managing Your Plant Anywhere, Anytime (mobile devices)
The Technology Behind MTConnect
In order to better appreciate how MTConnect works, we need to dive down just a little bit into the technology. Everyone is familiar with the concept of a Web site such as If you type that address into your browser, information shows up on your screen. Information shows up on your browser because the MPMA has a web server that answers your requests and sends information back to your browser. The two primary technologies that make all this work are http, which is how your browser communicates with MPMA’s web server, and XML, which is the actual language passed to your browser that represents the data being displayed. MTConnect basically works the same way.
MTConnect puts a very efficient and secure web server in front of manufacturing equipment., a machine tool simulator running on the Internet, provides information about the machine tool’s physical components and what data (alarms, spindle speed, feed rate, etc.) can be retrieved.

One of MTConnect’s key design aspects is that, when information comes back to the application, it includes a reference to a dictionary that specifically defines the physical components and the data items. The beauty of this approach is that all software speaks http and XML, so it is very easy for MTConnect-­enabled applications to speak to your manufacturing equipment. A good example of this is using a spreadsheet to get information with MTConnect. While you likely would not use a spreadsheet to monitor your shop floor, the point here is that MTConnect makes it very easy to get the data in a format other applications can easily use.

The MTConnect Institute

Companies, organizations, and even individuals can join the MTConnect Institute for free. Additionally, it is free to deploy the MTConnect protocol. MTConnect also adopts the open source philosophy, offering collaboration for multiple end users. We do this because we strongly believe a common protocol is the technology 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 it free with their software or systems.

Today, only 4 to 5 percent of machine tools around the globe are monitored. MTConnect is changing that and impacting 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—to better manage their business in an intelligent fashion.

Many shops and plants that have embraced MTConnect. Joel Neidig, technology manager for ITAMCO, has made his shop MTConnect-enabled. Mr. Neidig has written a mobile MTConnect application that he gives away for both the iPhone and Android phone platforms. He and his company use this app so they can check their plant anywhere at any time. Others can take it and improve the app with the idea of sharing those improvements with all. This is a classic open source. MTConnect has improved productivity for ITAMCO because you cannot manage what you do not know. You know by monitoring your shop and taking action with that information.

ARC Technology Group wrote an interesting article titled, “MTConnect Standard for Machine Tools Drives Sustainable Manufacturing for US DoD.” As the author, Himanshu Shah, writes, “The Title 10 program has been taken on as a strategic initiative to further DoD activities and policies that promote the development and application of advanced technologies to manufacturing processes, tools, and equipment. While the program does not include specific metrics, it is intended to ‘… improve the manufacturing quality, productivity, technology, and practices of businesses and workers providing goods and services to the DoD.’”

Comments from those inside DoD have been made that, perhaps, MTConnect should be a standard for their department. That’s because open, royalty-free and open source technology already has been proven to help DoD become more productive (saving both time and money). Why should these lessons learned not be applied to manufacturing for DoD?

Where is MTConnect Today in its History?

We are in our third release with MTConnect, with many exciting things taking place. 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 how to write MTConnect-enabled software. Be sure to visit to learn more.

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.

A great place to ask questions regarding shop floor monitoring and MTConnect is at the new

Dave Edstrom is president and chairman of the MTConnect Institute. He can be reached at

Please note that I own everything I write and I one the copyright an I allow Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association to us my writing.
Copyright © 2012 Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association. For permission to use or reprint this article please contact Amy Slettum, publications manager for Precision Manufacturing journal.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy 29th To The Best Wife Ever - Julie Edstrom

We celebrated our 29th Wedding Anniversary in Ocean City, Maryland.   Best thing ever to happen to me was meeting Julie Johnson on Saturday, December 15th, 1979 and when we got married September 24th, 1983.

Below is a picture of us at our favorite restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland - Harpoon Hannas.

Below are three classic places to eat in OC, MD - Thrasher's french fries, Dumsers Ice Cream and Dolle's Sea Water Taffe.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Life is Short, Death is Certain

This article appears in the IMTS Insider for September 19th, 2012

When I was at Sun Microsystems, I gave numerous talks to colleges and universities. Typically, the talks were held in the engineering department or the computer science department. Usually, the audience was mostly students with a few professors attending. I would end my talk with a slide that had three points on it:
  • Life is short.
  • Death is certain.
  • If you don’t make your own decisions now, time will make them for you.
It was the last point that I would emphasize. When you are at least two to three times older than your audience, you can give advice with the logic I used. While I am pretty sure I am not two to three times older than your average exhibitor or attendee at IMTS, the last point might still be worth considering now that IMTS 2012 is a great and fresh memory.
For those of you who attended the Emerging Technology Center (ETC), you had a chance to see both MTConnect and MTInsight.
In the MTConnect area, there were applications being shown in the areas:
  • Efficiency – Understanding Hidden Cost
  • Utilization – Discovering Untapped capacity
  • Sustainability - Minimizing Negative Environmental Impacts
  • Managing Your Plant Anywhere, Anytime (mobile devices)
What are your specific plans with the open and royalty free standard called MTConnect? Are you going to sit on the sidelines while others improve their productivity? If you are a Gardner Top Shop, are you going to embrace MTConnect to move up even higher in the list? If you are a manufacturing equipment provider, are you going to finally join the MTConnect Institute to provide connectivity choice for your customers? If you are a software provider, is the fall of 2012 the time you are going to embrace MTConnect to provide choice to your customers? If you are a distributor, MTConnect is the key to be the trusted advisor to your customers. As a distributor, your customers look to you for guidance, and if you are not staying up to date with the latest technologies, are you really doing the best service for your customers?
The MTConnect Institute has lots of information at and there is a new forum at where conversations on how to improve productivity with the MTConnect standard is happening everyday. Feel free to contact me at As the President and Chairman of the Board of the MTConnect Institute, there is nothing I would rather do than talk to those in manufacturing about the benefits of MTConnect.
If you read my columns in the IMTS Insider, you know what a big believer in MTInsight I am and specifically the IMTS 2012 application. The IMTS 2012 application's best bang for the buck in the manufacturing arena is AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology’s MTInsightplatform. While IMTS 2012 is over, if you do not now own the IMTS 2012 application, there is still time. Don’t be left out in the cold and not get the sales that you and your company deserve from IMTS. Is there a better or more qualified list of individuals to market to than those who just attended IMTS 2012? Even if you had a 10 by 10 booth, how much is an additional one or two sales worth to you and your company?
If you are an exhibitor at IMTS 2012, there are top answers to that question on why someone would purchase the MTInsight IMTS 2012 application that Mark Kennedy and Kim Brown, of the MTInsight sales team, created and share with prospects.
  • Unlimited access to sell and market to IMTS 2012 registrants.
  • See what days your key customers are coming to IMTS 2012 – updated nightly.
  • Filter prospects by geography, industry, product interest, buying role, job function and plant size to find your key customers.
  • Compare your booth performance to other exhibitors in your pavilion, quadrant, building and the whole show.
  • Identify new opportunities – everyone who missed your booth in 2010 and post-show 2012.
  • Pinpoint visitor traffic trends to amplify your booth's productivity.
  • Visualize never before seen data using state-of-the-art interactive tools.
Exhibitors should not settle for a good IMTS, but aim for a GREAT IMTS by buying the MTInsightIMTS 2012 application. Visit to learn more and subscribe. For questions, pricing, or to schedule a live demonstration, contact Mark Kennedy ( or 703-827-5220) or Kim Brown ( or 703-827-5223) right now.
Make your own decisions now, join the MTConnect revolution and if you are an exhibitor, make sure you are an MTInsight subscriber. If you don’t make those decisions now, time will make them for you.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday at IMTS 2012 - Cars, Motorcycle and Helicopter at IMTS 2012

Below is a new Fisker Karma.  A beautiful automobile.

Below is an amazing 1910 Packard.  This is a $1million car.

I got INCREDIBLY lucky because the owner let me sit in the car.  No ONE was allowed to sit in the car.  I think he knew I was a car guy and I REALLY appreciated it!

 Below are four photos of a great 1969 Pontiac Firebird.

The Corvette C6R race car.

A custom chopper above.

And, of course a helicopter above.

Below is me in front of the IMTS Rally Fighter car that was built at IMTS 2012.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise

I am in Chicago for IMTS 2012 and when my room was not ready, I decided to go for a long walk since it was a picture perfect day in Chicago.  I went to on a Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise.  If you are in Chicago, this is a must.  The last time I did this was in 2000 with my wife and Alice Eelman.  We came out here to see what Peter Eelman runs which is IMTS.  This is my fifth IMTS (2000, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012).   I am absolute rookie though as a number of AMT employees have been coming to IMTS since 1972.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Amazing Video On "What Is A Flame?"

This is a GREAT video and shows just how hard it truly is to explain a complicated topic in a way that an 11 year old can understand it.   This was a contest Alan Alda came up with.   Here is the link to the Flame Challenge.

Below is the video.