Machine tool builder Mazak Corporation reported it is adopting the MTConnect open communications protocol for its U.S. manufacturing center in Florence, Ky., making it the industry’s first OEM to implement the data-exchange standard. MTConnect is the manufacturing technology industry’s customized platform for exchanging data between shop floor equipment, and its use for machine monitoring and data analysis has been growing steadily since it was introduced in 2008.
Mazak said adopting MTConnect would allow it to monitor its manufacturing equipment and collect useful data for improving its operations. In turn, those improvements will ensure its customers are provided with advanced technology quickly, helping them to meet customers’ changing demands.
Mazak emphasized its pioneering role in the growth of MTConnect: all of the CNC machines it builds are compatible with the protocol, and over 100 of its customers are in various stages of integrating their own operations with MTConnect. Approximately 300 Mazak machines of various models are involved in that process.
“MTConnect’s value to our customers is in the ability for them to establish extensive and open channels of communication for plug-and-play interconnectivity between devices,” stated Mazak Corp. president Brian Papke.
“MTConnect allows software to be universally applied between different types of machine models so that information is readily available for improving machine tool utilization,” he continued. “Using this capability, Mazak is taking another positive step in further increasing the productivity of our North American operations and ensuring the strong competitiveness of our Kentucky manufacturing.”
Steady Expansion, Improvement
Mazak’s Florence operations have been expanding steadily in recent years, including capacity expansion for machine tools, and larger operations for its North American Parts and National Technology Centers, all at that location.
The initial application of MTConnect at Florence will be to monitor overall equipment efficiency. Mazak will also use it for “custom applications,” including monitoring machine tool spindle sensors for valuable maintenance data, and tracking part cycle times for optimal scheduling.
Most significant, Mazak said, would be using MTConnect with third-party software to incorporate the use of mobile apps for real-time monitoring of manufacturing. Mazak managers and others will have access to live real-time data from equipment monitoring dashboards via mobile devices. Instant text and/or email alerts and notifications of manufacturing or equipment issues will be possible, too.
Neil Desrosiers, Mazak’s developer of digital solutions, said the full potential of adopting MTConnect at the Kentucky plant would be achieved when the measurement data is collected, and full potential machine tool utilization is realized in the factory.
That data will be available for review to attendees at Mazak’s Discover 2013 event in October 8.
“We want to demonstrate to our customers that they, too, can improve their productivity through MTConnect machine monitoring capability,” Desrosiers said, “because when it comes to machine tool performance, you have to measure it before you can improve it.”