Show Your Interest

Customer interest and demand reward the standards-making process and create an incentive to bring compliant products to market.

“We are waiting for customers to ask for it” is a frequent reply when suppliers are asked if and when they will adopt a proposed industry standard. Of course, if suppliers do not embrace the standard and make the effort (often considerable) to comply, then customer interest will indeed be slow to develop. This chicken-or-the-egg syndrome can be a major problem for the parties developing voluntary standards. Standards are valuable to the extent that they are adopted. This is especially true of standards that promote interoperability in a digital environment where software applications may rely on data from many supplier sources. 

The Generic Tool Catalog (GTC) format that complements the ISO 13399 cutting tool data exchange standards is a case in point. January's cover story seeks to explain the nature of the GTC, provide some background and highlight its benefits to the machining industry. However, to some extent, these benefits are contingent on a critical mass of cutting tool manufacturers complying with ISO 13399 and the GTC.

Of course, compliance is not a trivial issue. These companies may have thousands or tens of thousands of product items. Changing internal product codes and database structures takes a lot of time and effort, which can significantly affect personnel and IT resources. Smaller tool companies may feel the greatest impact.

I spoke with a number of industry experts as I was researching this topic (and I am indebted to all of them). One point that Marcel Keinan at Siemens PLM brought up was the need for more tool vendors to have their data in the ISO 13399/GTC format. In particular, having 3D models with the appropriate coordinate systems needed to support 3D tool assembly creation and collision detection is an urgent priority. This data enables a smooth workflow from vendor catalog to tool path, a key benefit of integrating cutting tool data.

Our discussion led to these ideas about what professionals in CNC shops and plants could do to boost cutting tool data exchangeability:

  1. Be educated on the pertinent data exchange initiatives and standards. Pay attention to the technical details and nuances.

  2. Ask tool suppliers if data in the ISO 13399/GTC format is available. Likewise, ask software developers to demonstrate applications that use digital tool data. Look for developments in this area at trade shows and industry events.

  3. Consider the value of digital tool libraries and tool management systems in your operations. You should think ahead to how these systems can enhance your company’s technology plan.

  4. Run a pilot program or participate as a beta test site for applications that use digital tool data.

Following these steps will send the market signals indicating that demand is growing. This will add to the momentum that motivates both tool vendors and software developers to move forward—and with them, our industry.