Make Your Way to the ETC - Digital Transformation

A decade after MTConnect was first introduced at IMTS, connected devices are offered by a host of suppliers here at the show. See the best examples of the technology in action in AMT’s Emerging Technology Center in the North Building.


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The word “automation,” as it circles the manufacturing community these days, brings up images of unmanned machines running for hours on end and articulated robot arms tending long production cycles. It makes sense, then, that the Emerging Technology Center (ETC) in the North Building, presented by AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, is focused on automated manufacturing.

AMT’s ETC Digital Transformation features a demonstration of a vertical CNC mill tended by an articulated arm through a Robot Operating System-Industrial (ROS-I) interface. The collaborative robot arm autonomously transfers milled parts to a coordinate measuring machine (CMM). The center also showcases other digital innovations that are well suited for the aerospace, automotive, medical and energy sector applications.

According to Mike Cicco, president and CEO of FANUC America Corp., the robot’s operation of the vertical mill is made possible by MTConnect, a set of royalty-free standards that fosters interoperability between controls, devices and software applications. MTConnect was first demonstrated at IMTS 2008. “Fast forward a decade,” Cicco says, “and you can see a host of automation and machine tool providers demonstrating the benefits of connected devices at IMTS 2018.”

Of MTConnect and the ETC robot, Tim Shinbara, vice president of technology at AMT, says “This many-to-many, interface-enabled system demonstrates how data sharing creates a closed-loop system. Using data from the CMM, the CNC compensates for tool wear by recalculating its offsets to maintain tolerances closer to the median of the specification.”

In short, ETC Digital Transformation shows that automation and connectivity are the next steps in the evolution of manufacturing processes. For companies that want to improve quality, hold tighter tolerances or increase machine usage rates, collaborative robots and connected systems will be necessities in the near future.