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Mark Albert

Mark Albert is editor-in-chief of Modern Machine Shop Magazine, a position he has held since July 2000. He was associate editor and then executive editor of the magazine in prior years. Mark has been writing about metalworking for more than 30 years. Currently, his favorite topics are lean manufacturing and global competitiveness. Mark’s editorial activities have taken him to numerous countries in Europe and Asia as well as across the United States many times. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana).

Posted by: Mark Albert 2. January 2015

The ISO 13399 and MTConnect Connection

ISO 13399 is an international standard that enables cutting tool manufacturers to use the same “language” to describe their products in a computer-interpretable, digital format. This common format simplifies the exchange of this data between computer systems and software applications. Sharing this data more readily should lead to better decisions about shopfloor activities, thus improving productivity and significantly cutting costs. As a result, ISO 13399 is a major step toward data-driven manufacturing.

By complying with this standard, information about cutting tool products from one manufacturer “looks” the same as the information from another manufacturer that also complies with this standard. Computer software that can use this information does not have to have a translator or customized interface for the data from each manufacturer in order to make that data usable in an application. For this reason, ISO 13399 is a valuable resource and model for the other standards developed to exchange manufacturing data.

An important example of this is MTConnect. MTConnect is a computer protocol for exchanging data between shopfloor equipment such as machine tools and software applications for monitoring and analyzing machine performance. Like ISO 13399, MTConnect creates a vocabulary of defined terms related to manufacturing equipment. From the start, MTConnect was designed to be extensible, that is, sets of vocabulary terms could be added to the standard for other categories of manufacturing data.

After the original versions of MTConnect were released in 2008, one of the categories of new vocabulary terms targeted for inclusion in the MTConnect standard were those related to “mobile assets.” For MTConnect purposes, mobile assets include cutting tools, cutter body assemblies, fixturing components and other elements that tend to circulate among machine tools, storage units, inspection devices, automatic toolchangers and so on.

Developers found that ISO 13399 could provide a ready-made set of vocabulary terms and codes usable for an extension to MTConnect that would cover mobile assets. By adopting these terms and codes, the mobile assets extension could be compiled and released more quickly. This extension was formally added to the MTConnect standard in July 2012. The compatibility between ISO 13399 and MTConnect is significant because it enables data about cutting tools and their performance to be added to the data that an application chooses to include in its monitoring and analysis.

Any hindrance to the exchange of digital data between computerized equipment and across information systems is a barrier to data-driven manufacturing. ISO 13399 and MTConnect help break down these barriers. Data exchangeability is also a key enabler in concepts such as the Internet of Things and initiatives such as Industry 4.0. Neither of these can be realized fully without the smooth, secure and comprehensive flow of data. Likewise, access to the data cloud hinges on data exchangeability.

In this context, ISO 13399, MTConnect and other data exchange standards for manufacturing show their true significance. To learn more about ISO 13399, click here.

Posted by: Mark Albert 19. December 2014

Get Smart about Manufacturing Intelligence

This white paper from Sandvik Coromant is a succinct, readable overview of the so-called fourth industrial revolution. The big message is: Get ready for it now because it is both a huge challenge and a fantastic opportunity.

The paper includes a timeline of the successive industrial revolutions and a discussion of the emerging Internet of Things. Finally, it recaps Sandvik Coromant’s substantial efforts to have products ready for its customers as they implement the manufacturing intelligence that participation in this new revolution demands.

Posted by: Mark Albert 5. December 2014

Video: Tailstock Fundamentals

Haas Automation has produced an excellent video on the fundamentals of tailstocks for lathes. Although the video depicts a Haas lathe, this video is 100-percent about tailstocks and is a valuable intro for trainees as well as a worthwhile refresher for veteran turning operators.

 

Posted by: Mark Albert 21. November 2014

A Vision of the Data-Driven Factory

Mazak’s implementation of the iSmart Factory concept in Florence. Kentucky, includes an MTConnect-enabled machine monitoring system on this Palletech flexible machining system.

Yamazaki Mazak headquarters in Aichi, Japan, has announced an all-encompassing manufacturing vision called the Mazak iSmart Factory concept. According to the company, it will eventually designate all ten of its manufacturing operations as iSmart Factories, the first being the Oguchi factory at Mazak’s headquarters in Japan and now the North American factory in Florence, Kentucky.

The concept calls for advanced manufacturing cells and systems together with full digital integration to achieve free-flow data sharing for process control and operation monitoring. Also announced is that the MTConnect open communications protocol is being used with process support software to provide connectivity and the capability to monitor, then harvest, data from different production-floor machines, cells, devices and processes.

Through PCs and portable electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, both management and manufacturing personnel will access the same real-time manufacturing data to improve overall productivity efficiency and responsiveness to customer/market changes, the company says.

Brian Papke, president of Mazak Corporation, explains that for Mazak, “iSmart Factory is a vision—the complete digital integration of the factory with state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, automation and advanced manufacturing practices. The name establishes a philosophy—a credo of sorts for Mazak that is unique to our operations but symbolizes our commitment toward the ultimate smart factory.” He says that while the name is new, “our U.S. factory has long demonstrated a commitment to growth and technological advancement, with a critical part of that strategy being such factors as plant-wide connectivity, automation and optimized production flow.” Mr. Papke also says that benefits include significant increases in machine utilization, shorter throughput times, elimination of non-value added operations, production-on-demand capability and more efficient part machining.

Simultaneous five-axis capability, multitasking machining and advanced automation that integrates different machines within the same cell are highlights of Mazak’s North American iSmart Factory operations. Also under the iSmart Factory umbrella in Kentucky is a fully automated paint line that will be digitally monitored through the same technology. The systems utilize the MTConnect standard for factory floor data, which will be incorporated into Mazak’s ERP system as the next step in 2015.

For an earlier summary of Mazak’s progress in data-driven manufacturing, click here

Posted by: Mark Albert 14. November 2014

The Genetic Code for Manufacturing Success

JIMTOF is a “big sight” at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibit and conference center. There is always a lot of great new technology to see at this show.

The theme for the Japan International Machine Tool Fair (JIMTOF) 2014 was “Monozukuri DNA.” Translated, this means that craftsmanship along with the latest technology are the best predictors that a manufacturing company will have the traits to succeed in a competitive environment. This slideshow presents a sample of the technology offered at Japan’s biggest and most important machine tool show. 

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