Monday, December 28, 2015

Manufacturing's Game Changer - The SmartBox - Securely Connecting Legacy Manufacturing Equipment

Mazak, Cisco and Memex teamed up to create the SmartBox. 

The SmartBox addresses the three big problem that manufacturing has today:

  • The ability to connect legacy machine tools, sensors, (turn it into MTConnect), do it securely and provide award-winning software to view what's happening on the plant floor. 
Mazak is the world's largest machine tool maker, Cisco is the world's leader in networking and Memex is a recognized global leader in measuring manufacturing excellence.

Memex has hardware and software in the SmartBox.  We have our Ax760-MTC and MERLIN (our shop floor monitoring platform).  At Memex, we refer the ability to connect to anything on the shop floor as addressing "the last meter" and we are recognized experts in this area. Memex's MERLIN is award winning - Manufacturing Execution Real-time Lean Information Network - is what turns this into actionable intelligence for manufacturing operators, manages and CxOs.

Below is a photo of the SmartBox that appeared on Mark Albert's (Modern Machine Shop Editor) blog on October 30th, 2015.  The title of Mark's blog is appropriately titled, "What's So Smart about the SmartBox?"  Mark does a great job discussing what makes up the SmartBox.

 Mark brings out five key points in his blog about the SmartBox and is well worth reading.

The SmartBox is about the size of a medicine cabinet.

I am just writing about SmartBox now, while it was announced in October, because I wanted to wait until I had time to give more justice to this huge announcement and it was a little closer to the time it would be shipping.  I am sure I will be writing more about this exciting product.

Below is our (Memex Inc.) announcement in October on a game changing technology called SmartBox.  I highlighted the many key points of the SmartBox.

"The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) just got real for manufacturing productivity. Later this month, Mazak Corporation will showcase MERLIN software from MEMEX Inc. (TSX-V: OEE) with hardware from information technology (IT) leader Cisco in what is described as a collaborative platform called SmartBox.

Developed by Mazak, SmartBox will launch in front of metalworking managers and C-level executives on October 27-29 and November 3-5 at DISCOVER 2015. This Mazak Technology and Education event takes place at the company’s North American Manufacturing Headquarters in Florence, KY. Click here for Mazak’s October 15 press release on SmartBox.

Mazak is an industry-first launch platform for easy and highly secure entrance into the Industrial Internet of Things. SmartBox builds on MEMEX’s strategic partnership with Mazak Corp., which earlier this year named MEMEX to its exclusive Value Inspired Partner (VIP) program.

“The SmartBox collaboration realizes the IIoT vision on the factory floor,” said MEMEX’s CEO David McPhail. “We’re thrilled to be participating in this powerful combination with Mazak and Cisco. As well as MERLIN software, we are contributing our easy-to-deploy Ax760 hardware adapters to SmartBox. They enable every machine on the shop floor, old or new, to become web servers that utilize the MTConnect® manufacturing communication standard.

Using MTConnect® as its foundation, SmartBox connectivity of machines and devices allows for enhanced monitoring and analytical capabilities including advanced cyber security protection. SmartBox represents a huge leap in digital integration across manufacturing.

“With the development of SmartBox, Mazak continues to drive toward its iSMART Factory concept and connecting today’s shops to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to achieve levels of efficiency and productivity never before realized,” said Brian Papke, President of Mazak. “And while our concept centers around open connectivity and the Internet, we at Mazak believe it is our moral obligation to also provide customers the highest level of security possible with SmartBox. As with all the technology we develop, Mazak has first implemented SmartBox into our own operations before expecting customers to wholeheartedly embrace the system.”

The power of SmartBox will be demonstrated at DISCOVER 2015 in one of the automated cells as part of Mazak’s own manufacturing operations. Each of the cell’s four machines are outfitted with a SmartBox and sensor array package, giving event attendees a firsthand look at the device in action within an actual manufacturing environment and network.

Mazak developed SmartBox to work with any machine regardless of make, model or age and will offer it in various configurations/kits based on the scenarios and challenges in which the units will be used. The device physically mounts to the side of machines without having to integrate into a machine’s electrical cabinet. With several standard input/output connecting ports, SmartBox lets users quickly and easily connect any standard off-the-shelf sensors to the system for machine data gathering and condition monitoring. One SmartBox may service several machine tools along with other associated manufacturing equipment, depending on the application.

At the heart of SmartBox is Cisco’s Connected Machines solution, based on the IoT System, designed specifically for industrial environments and equipped with an MTConnect software agent. Using a fog computing model, MTConnect runs directly on the ruggedized Cisco Industrial Ethernet (IE) 4000 switch, providing MERLIN software’s real-time visibility and insights into data right on the factory floor.

MEMEX’s MERLIN software installed in Mazak’s factory allows for monitoring analytics of machines, test stands and other equipment within the plant. The Cisco hardware is designed to help prevent any issues with unauthorized access from both directions – to or from the machines and equipment within a network. SmartBox satisfies the highly critical security concerns of IT departments when connecting legacy equipment to a plant’s main network for the purpose of gathering manufacturing data via the MTConnect protocol.

About the Company
MEMEX Inc. is a leading Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology platform provider that connects to any machine and delivers real-time manufacturing productivity metrics. Industrial strength MERLIN software provides Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) efficiency metrics in real time, from shop floor to top floor. MERLIN connects to any machine, old or new, utilizing MTConnect, other protocols or hardware adapters. The MERLIN magic delivers a 10% to 50% average productivity increase so that any manufacturer can achieve world-class standards of excellence. Based on just a 10% increase in OEE, customers see profit improvements of 20%-plus and payback in less than four months. For more information, please visit:"