Thursday, August 29, 2013

Kip Hanson's Cutting Tool Engineering's "Let's Chat" Article

 Kip Hanson wrote a very interesting article for Cutting Tool Engineering that is titled "Let's Chat".  Kip interviewed me and a number of others for this article.

Below are some snippets from the article:

"Dave Edstrom, president and chairman of the board at the MTConnect Institute, McLean, Va., said, “Our vision is to provide an easy way for people to get information out of their equipment at a greatly reduced cost.
At a 2006 meeting of AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology, Edstrom made a bold statement: The industry was 21 years behind the curve in terms of communication. “Everyone was talking smart machines this and smart machines that. So I told them, ‘Why don’t you guys just get the damn things [manufacturing equipment] to speak the same language!’ There was no reason to reinvent the wheel.”

Edstrom explained that many new machine tools already had Ethernet on board or available as an option. HTTP and XML were well-established protocols by that time on the Web. Working with Dr. David Patterson of University of California-Berkeley, they convinced AMT that these communication standards had already worked for the computer industry for more than 2 decades—why not apply them to machine tools as well? Apparently, their speeches were convincing because AMT provided $1 million to develop MTConnect. 

Oh, great, you’re thinking, one more CNC interface to contend with, along with more programming, more complexity and more variables, while all you want to do is ship parts. Not so fast. Edstrom said: “MTConnect is not an interface, nor is it a programming language. It is a simple, royalty-free, open-source standard built upon proven protocols. Similar to browsing on the Internet, MTConnect lets you type in the name of a machine tool and receive back simple verbs, such as probe, current, sample and asset. You say ‘send me data on what you’re doing,’ and the control returns that data to a database, spreadsheet or software program.”
It's a long and very well written article.  Here is an example of just how real MTConnect is:

"Collaborating with MTConnect sponsor TechSolve Inc. in nearby Cincinnati, Itamco has worked for the past year on a project to connect everything in the shop to ShopViz, a central machine monitoring system. It’s about 25 percent complete. 

Aside from the aforementioned benefits of machine tool monitoring, Itamco has seen some surprising results. By tracking power consumption on its equipment, Itamco reduced its energy costs. Neidig said: “Our utility company charges a much higher rate if we exceed the base level during peak hours. Because we can now monitor that real-time, we found that we could schedule jobs based on that usage. We cut our electric bill—roughly 14 percent of our total operating expenses—by more than 30 percent.”