"MTConnect: To Measure Is To Know," is a new book by Dave Edstrom. Dave is CEO/CTO of Virtual Photons Electrons and president/board chair of the MTConnect Institute. The book is all about MTConnect, an open-source, royalty-free communications standard intended to foster greater communication and connectivity between manufacturing equipment and devices. The author’s goal is clearly to promote the standard and the substantial benefits he believes it has for manufacturers, especially those in the United States. Dave has been in the computer industry for more than 34 years and deeply involved in manufacturing for the past seven.
The book looks at this standard from two perspectives. The first part of the book is mostly Dave’s personal account of how (and why) MTConnect was first proposed and then aggressively developed under the main sponsorship of AMT—The Association for Manufacturing Technology. This section is a readable mix of the standard’s historical origins as Dave witnessed them and his reflections on the nature of the larger digital technology surrounding it. This treatment puts MTConnect in its conceptual framework and context.
The second part of the book builds on that background to explain the inner workings of the standard and the open system principles underlying them. This part is more technical, but is written for readers who are not Information Technology specialists (although they will benefit from Dave’s clarity). The explanations are designed to encourage machine shop owners and managers of manufacturing plants to adopt MTConnect-enabled equipment and applications by helping them understand the basics. Dave’s message about machine monitoring is especially timely and urgent.
At points, Dave rambles a bit, is gushy with his enthusiasm and lapses into name-dropping, yet none of these minor defects detract from the overall readability of this valuable book on an important development in manufacturing technology.
Faster, more intuitive programming, reduced setup times, improved flexibility—these are just a few of the results of Major Tool & Machine’s move to a new CNC platform for many of its largest machine tools. The video above, produced by Siemens, provides an overview of these and other benefits.
However, realizing these advantages involved far more than just a CNC swap. In fact, most large-machine retrofits do. That was a major takeaway from a series of conversations I had with Doug Huber of Indiana Automation, the company that performed the retrofits at MTM. In this article, Mr. Huber describes why projects like the one at MTM not only tend to necessitate new drives, motors and other motion system components, but also present opportunities for more substantial improvements.
This rotary table has a through-hole diameter of 13.6 inches, which has previously been available only with rotary tables having a 31.5-inch face plate. It is also 484 pounds lighter.
Kitagawa-NorthTech notes that the size of cylindrical oilfield components are getting larger. This typically would mean that shops with limited size capacity for its machines would have to purchase a larger machine not so much to accommodate the part, but the big NC rotary table. That’s why the TP530 was developed to deliver the requisite through-hole diameter in a more compact overall size than comparable rotary tables so this type of work can be performed on smaller machines. Learn more.
Ed Morris, director of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, spoke at last week’s Additive Manufacturing Users Group Conference in Jacksonville, Florida. His presentation identified benefits of additive manufacturing that are important to the Department of Defense, including all of the benefits listed below. In reading through his list on the screen in front of the audience as he spoke, it struck me how far beyond theory and how far into practice we already are with AM. Modern Machine Shop has been publishing its quarterly Additive Manufacturing supplement for just over a year now, and already we have covered working examples of most of the benefits Mr. Morris sees. Below are his words, augmented with hyperlinks to some of the examples we have found:
George Smith, president of EGW, says he is confident in his comparisons of the SGS’ Z-Carb mills and the previously used tool is because both ran for an extended period of time in the same conditions on the same machine: the Fadal VMC visible here.
Product literature abounds with claims about reducing cycle time or improving productivity by such-and-such percent. Assuming the supplier is reputable, such data aren’t conjured from thin air; they’re the result of extensive testing. And any proper testing will apply a principle that we all (should have) learned in science class: it’s imperative to keep all process variables constant except the one being evaluated.
That’s worth keeping in mind when evaluating a new product on your own shop floor. Consider this case study, which details the benefits firearm component manufacturer Evolution Gun Works (EGW) gleaned from a new end mill. The reason company founder George Smith can be so confident in the capabilities of the new tool boils down to process consistency. As Mr. Smith puts it, “We have a good gauge on end mills because we’ve been running the same job on the same machine with the same material for four months straight.”