Why I Love MTConnect

It’s got good people behind it. It’s got great shops as users. It’s got really neat applications. In short, it’s fun to write about.

Columns From: 8/22/2012 Modern Machine Shop, ,

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Mark Albert, MMS Editor in Chief

Mark has been writing his Mark: My Word column every month since January, 1981.

Sometimes I worry that I’ve given too much editorial attention to MTConnect. The article starting on page 70 is my latest addition to the numerous feature articles, columns, blogs, news items and more that I’ve devoted to this standard.

I readily admit that there are many other “emerging technologies” in metalworking whose significance and promise may match or exceed that of this data standard for industrial equipment. I’ve been able to cover only a few of these newsworthy developments, yet I’ve returned to MTConnect repeatedly.
This intense coverage, I believe, is justified.
MTConnect is an open, non-proprietary standard. Although software applications that leverage MTConnect are being marketed commercially, the organizational effort behind the development and dissemination of this standard is not profit-based. Editorial coverage is an important part of the publicity needed to spread news of the standard and broadcast its benefits to manufacturers.
MTConnect touches on many of the challenges and opportunities facing shops and factories right now. The lack of data compatibility among machine tools, auxiliary equipment, software systems and databases is a serious obstacle to a host of productivity gains and efficiencies. Overcoming these obstacles is critical if manufacturing is to sustain its current surge. The potential benefits of
MTConnect are likely to influence almost every manufacturing company.
However, there are a number of personal reasons why MTConnect appeals to me as an editorial topic. For example, I admire the hard work of key individuals at AMT—The Association for Manufacturing Technology (the trade association that launched this development effort) and, in turn, the MTConnect Institute, to get this standard off to the right start. It is edifying to see the clear vision, intelligent execution and altruistic support behind this standard. I like to interact with the type of people who join causes like this.
Although MTConnect is not without intricate technicalities in computer science that sometimes seem beyond my reach, I can grasp its big-picture significance. Conveying the meaning and value of MTConnect in my own words has been a challenge, but it’s made me a better writer.
The developers of applications for MTConnect are energetic, visionary entrepreneurs. Their excitement and drive revs me up, too. Their support and assistance have helped make my articles more accurate and complete.
Most importantly, my contacts at companies that have implemented MTConnect-enabled applications are some of the most creative, motivated and forward-thinking people I’ve encountered in manufacturing. Their willingness to share the insider’s experience has given me good stories to tell. They’ve become trusted friends.
I want to see MTConnect play a key part in the revitalization of U.S. manufacturing. I’m pleased to do my small part. It’s also increased my eagerness—and I think my preparation—to go after the other emerging technologies contributing to a spirited rebirth of this industry.
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