Instead of a company collecting its own data from its machines by purchasing a server—which can cause a plethora of technical issues, including patching, upgrading, malware, viruses, not to mention a large expense—a cloud computing service for manufacturing is often a more practical option. This is a large server farm that someone else runs and maintains, leaving the hassles of doing it yourself in the hands of the “cloud.”
MT Connect, a good example of cloud computing for manufacturing today, is an open and royalty-free protocol standard that allows manufacturing equipment to have a common language to exchange information. As machine tools start spitting out gigabytes of information per hour, it doesn’t make sense to store all this locally. But storing this information in the “cloud” securely and using as many or as few processors as needed to analyze this data can be a better choice.
Performance data from the machine tools can offer an objective, unbiased method that the cells can use to evaluate their machines’ capabilities, to identify opportunities and to measure improvements for machining processes. For this reason, developing a system to monitor machine tool health and status is a priority for many machine shops, and MT Connect offers real-time data diagnostics to show how well machines are performing.
To learn more about the basics and history of cloud computing, read “Cloud Computing in Manufacturing.”