Moving into Digital Manufacturing

Digital manufacturing requires analysis of data from a diverse set of industrial equipment on the factory floor.

Uniform, robust communications are part of the necessary infrastructure for modern business systems and 21st century decision-making.

Protomatic is working with MT Connect to monitor its machines in real time. MT Connect is a CNC machine open-format communication protocol developed by the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), a non-profit organisation.

This open source license provides basic tools that retrieve uniform data from CNC equipment, allowing for real-time updates on productivity.

How does MT Connect work?

MT Connect is a common industry communication method that can be adapted to a variety of industrial equipment on the factory floor, using standard Ethernet connectivity.

Data is accessible via a web browser or collected with a client application, typically presented as a dashboard-style report. Some client applications store data in a database to measure trends and collect long-term data.

The purpose is to create more efficient operations with improved production optimisation and increased productivity, which is done by providing CNC machine status information to more than just the operator. This is available on the network for operators, programmers, setup machinists, maintenance personnel, repair personnel, supervisors and management.

The CNC machine state is updated in almost real-time, and data is provided to the client application.

At Protomatic, we display colour-coded machine status information for the lathe department. The type of information is related to machine attributes, spindle speed, feed rate, tool number, error code if in a fault condition, part counters, and status information from the andon lights.

Examples of the machine status:

  • Green is running 100%
  • Yellow is not optimised as feed rate is reduced to 50%
  • Orange is halted (part complete)
  • Red (not shown) is off or E-Stop

Protomatic want an empowerment workforce. Employees need to know what is going on so they have immediate control of the CNC equipment. Additionally, support personnel, such as the setup or programmer machinist, can observe and recognise the manufacturing status of the job and help the operator if they are having problems with a task.

Job scheduling helps manufacturing management and improves job scheduling with monitoring, and is critical for remote access for lights-out manufacturing applications.

The machine maintenance group also receives real-time updates of the machine status, and if a machine breakdown occurs, CNC error codes are available and they can respond appropriately.

These are just some of the benefits of the MT Connect program at Protomatic. The company aims to connect more machines in the future, in its effort to continually provide ‘life-saving precision’ to its customers.

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