USB Device Wirelessly Connects Older Machines
Shop Floor Automations offers a device that adds Wi-Fi to any machine via a USB port for data monitoring. Intended to serve as a cost-effective solution for older machines, the Wi-Fi USB Connect emulates a thumb drive and plugs into the USB port of a machine and enables it to connect wirelessly to a shared folder on the network. Data is stored on a remote PC in the shop or on the device itself (capacity is 128 MB). The device requires no driver, just a short online configuration initially.
The company says that the device works on nearly any shopfloor machine tool with a USB port. Floppy-drive emulators are also compatible.
It can be set to rename, move or delete files after transfer. Data sources include network shares, FTP, email, SMB, cloud services and more.
Cutting tool manufacturers have worked together to create a generic tool catalog format that helps link cutting tool information with applications supporting data-driven manufacturing.
A panel discussion at the recent Top Shops Conference focused on various points of view regarding the value of connecting machine tools to a network for monitoring performance and recording results. Because machine monitoring helps a shop make better decisions about manufacturing processes, it is a good example of data-driven manufacturing in action.
Introduced at IMTS 2008, this communications protocol for CNC machines and other manufacturing equipment is already helping shops and plants implement effective machine monitoring systems. Although these "early adopters" are motivated by the long-term promise of enterprise-wide efficiency gains, their experience with pilot projects shows that benefits derived in the short term are substantial and worthwhile.